In a 5-4 ruling Tuesday, The Supreme Court ruled that public sector unions for state and local employees can’t force non-members to pay a “fair-share” union fee.
As The Hill details, SCOTUS ruled that the extraction of agency fees from non-consenting public sector employees violates the First Amendment.
The case centers on an Illinois law, similar to those in 22 other states, that allow public-sector unions to collect a “fair-share fee” from employees for non-political activities like collective bargaining, regardless of whether those employees belong to the union or not.
Mark Janus, a state child support specialist at the center of the case, argued against having to give up about $45 from each paycheck to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31. Doing so, he said, violates his First Amendment rights because it forces him to support the union’s messaging.
The union, AFSCME, argues it needs the “fair-share” funds to offset the significant costs it incurs negotiating working conditions for all employees. State laws allowing unions to collect these fees are justified, the union said, to avoid a situation where nonunion members get a “free ride.”
A group of 15 public sector unions, warned the court in a friend of the court brief that eliminating fair-share fees would eviscerate public sector unions, depriving them of resources they need to perform their essential public functions.
“The elimination of fair-share fees would create an all-or-nothing choice for the workers whom unions represent: pay union dues or pay nothing but still receive the benefits a union provides,” they wrote.
“In that world, many rational employees will choose to become free riders.”
President Trump seems pleased with the court’s verdict, noting that this is “big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!”
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