The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that public-sector unions for state and local employees can’t force nonmembers to pay a “fair-share” union fee.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court said collecting an agency fee from public sector employees who decide not to join the union violates the First Amendment.
The court’s conservative wing, led by Justice Samuel Alito, overturned a 1977 court precedent that allowed public-sector unions to accept fees from nonmembers to cover nonpolitical union activities like collective bargaining.
The court said Abood was poorly reasoned and wrongly decided.
“Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from the nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay,” Alito wrote.
“By agreeing to pay, nonmembers are waiving their First Amendment rights and such a waiver cannot be presumed.”