Supreme Court rules labor unions can't collect dues from non-members

Unions represent all workers, even non-members, but they might no longer be able to collect fees from non-members for their services following a Supreme Court ruling on Monday.
By Rick Docksai | Jun 28, 2018
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against public-sector labor unions Wednesday, decreeing that Illinois unions cannot compel non-union workers to pay unions fees that fund collective bargaining. Critics said that the decision will severely undermine the financial stability and bargaining power of unions across the country.

"It is hard to estimate how many billions of dollars have been taken from nonmembers and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment. Those unconstitutional exactions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely," wrote Justice Samuel Alito.

Public-sector unions negotiate with employers for all employees, not only their dues-paying members. In 1977, the Supreme Court determined that public-sector unions can require nonmembers to pay "fair share" fees for unions' efforts on issues such as employee grievances, physical safety, and training.

Nearly half of states have laws that authorize public-sector unions to collect fair-share fees from non-members. "Right to Work" groups in many states have fought these mandated fees in recent years, however, and prevailed on other states to pass laws abolishing these fees.

In this latest case, Illinois public-sector employee Mark Janus had sued to strike down his state's fees. He argued that because he is a government employee, collective-bargaining issues are inherently political and thus not activity that he should be obligated to support. Five of the nine justices agreed and concluded that the 1977 Supreme Court ruling had been wrong.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees said that the justices' decision means that non-members become free riders, who benefit from unions' representation without paying into them. Unions' finances will suffer, the organization added, as they will face major reductions to their collections.



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