NYS Unions Worry About Supreme Court Case Over Union Dues

Janus' attorney said those fees violate free-speech rights because he often disagrees with union action.

Labor leaders fear their members will abandon unions if they can get all the benefits of representation without paying for it. The Supreme Court takes up a challenge in a case that could deal a painful financial blow to organized labor.

Justice Neil Gorsuch likely holds the key vote in a major labor case that drew dueling protests outside the Supreme Court building for Monday's oral arguments, but he did nothing to tip his hand about his thinking. That case was challenged a year ago in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association which ended up with a 4-4 tie after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, leaving the fees in place. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which will determine whether public-sector unions can collect fees from non-union employees. AFSCME's Naomi Walker has warned that a loss in this case "could undermine political operations that assist the Democratic Party" and damage "the progressive infrastructure in this country, from think tanks to advocacy organizations". Unions strongly opposed Gorsuch's nomination by President Donald Trump. Janus and the conservative interests that back him contend that everything unions representing public employees do is political, including contract negotiations.

The union says it is advocating for me, but here is how I see it: At a time when IL is drowning in red ink and does not have the money to deliver core services, such as caring for the poor and disadvantaged, the union is wrangling taxpayers for higher wages and pension benefits for state workers - benefits that Illinoisans can not afford. Many states passed laws that encouraged or required collective bargaining in the public sector, while also imposing compulsory union fees.

Public arguments in the case of Janus vs. AFSCME begin on Monday.

If justices side with IL employee Mark Janus, non-union members won't have to pay those fees, but they would still receive representation.

The decision would overturn state laws mandating that government workers must pay "agency fees, " which would give some 5 million workers the choice to opt out.

If the workers do not see the benefit in the union's agenda, the workers will keep their money.

John Eastman says the Supreme Court should rule in favor of plaintiff Mark Janus in this case. While 28 states have so-called right-to-work laws that prohibit mandatory agency fees, Wisconsin and MI have exceptions for police officers and firefighters that permit agency fees covering those workers.

They argue everything a public sector union negotiates is, by definition, political because government spending is influenced. "I am confident that they will side with free speech for the people of our great nation", Rauner said of the justices, following the arguments. A decision is expected by June.

Union supporters argue changes to the precedent will weaken unions.

"It's an attempt to break up unions and strip away the voice that we have that fights not just for students, but for parents and the communities that we service", said Morris.

  • Eleanor Harrison