Supreme Court deals blow to public-sector unions


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.”

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3 Responses to Supreme Court deals blow to public-sector unions

  1. stella says:

    Comment from a good Facebook friend. He is a lawyer, Jewish, and an ex-Democrat:

    I strongly believe in unions in the private sector if the workers want them, and I have a background in that area.

    But not only are the important protections of collective bargaining contracts largely covered by civil service regulations, but the public sector negotiations are entirely different.

    For example, I worked for the SEIU local in St. Louis many years ago and did contract drafting and negotiation for the Hatters, the Hotel and Restaurant Workers, and UNITE. In any bargaining process there was a certain mutual interest and mutual restraint. The employer wants to make some money and we want the jobs, so there was some sense of what was possible.

    In a couple of cases the employer said they couldn’t afford it at all and under the law I was able to send an accountant in. With one company the CPA’s conclusion was no, they don’t have the money, so we signed a contract that provided for re-opening on wages and certain other conditions shorter term. In the other the CPA said no, they have the money, and eventually we got some of it.

    In a public sector negotiation there are no such constraints, especially when the unions and the governmental agency often work closely together and the union supports the public authority. Everyone has every incentive to sign whatever and let someone worry about it later.


    • My dad was an arbitrator between unions and companies, arbitrating disputes, and managing pensions, for many years, for about 15 foundries. He’s not a lawyer, he’s a long-time factory worker, who my Bumpa (grandfather on my mom’s side) realized had lots of wisdom and intelligence.

      He traveled a lot around the midwest on airlines, and sometimes had to sit in bars with both union bosses and factory owners and managers. In between them. Nobody knew his political leanings.

      One union boss confided to my dad in a bar once, that he’d actually like Conservatives to be put in camps someday. That he was looking forward to that day. My dad just sagely nodded, and probably said, “Mmm hmm.” He later confided in me that it freaked him the heck out, and opened his eyes.

      They really do want to re-do Treblinka with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Winning?

    [_] Tired
    [X] Still not Tired


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