In Major Defeat to Labor Unions, SCOTUS Rules 5-4 Against Forced Fees to Government Workers
The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to labor unions Wednesday morning, ruling 5-4 that state government workers cannot be forced to pay “fair share” fees to support collective bargaining and other union interests.
Trump-appointed Neil Gorsuch was the deciding vote.
The Supreme Court is on a conservative streak which means we are winning.
Fox News reported:
While the current case applies only to public-sector employees, the political and financial stakes are potentially huge for the broader American labor union movement, which had been sounding the alarm about the legal fight.
The unions say 5 million government employees in 24 states and the District of Columbia would be affected by this ruling.
At issue in the high-stakes case was whether states can compel government workers — whether they are in a union or not — to pay fees to support union activities. The case centered on the complaints of an Illinois state employee who sued, saying he was being asked to support the union’s political message.
Justices split 4-4 on the issue in a similar case two years ago. But with Neil Gorsuch now filling the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia, he was seen as the deciding vote this time – and sided with the conservative majority in Wednesday’s opinion.
But while his colleagues were closely divided in arguments back in February, Gorsuch played it close to the vest and left court watchers guessing for comments. He had no comments or questions from the bench during nearly 70 minutes of oral arguments.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a swing justice in other cases, cast a skeptical eye toward the union argument in February He said repeatedly that separating politics from the union’s collective bargaining mission was impossible.
“We’re talking here about compelled justification and compelled subsidization of a private party that expresses political views constantly,” Kennedy said. He told the union’s lawyer, “It seems to me your argument doesn’t have much weight.”
The plaintiff in the case, Mark Janus, has worked for years as an Illinois state employee and pays about $550 annually to the powerful public-sector union known as AFSCME.
While not a member of the union, he is required under state law to hand over a weekly portion of his paycheck, which he says is a violation of his constitutional rights.
“The fundamental issue is my right to choice,” Janus said outside the court in February.
Labor leaders oppose so-called “free riding” by workers like Janus, however, and say they have a legal duty to advocate for all employees.
The high court was asked to overturn its four-decade-old ruling allowing so-called “fair share” fees for public employees.
Neil Gorsuch received major push back from unions during his confirmation last Spring.
The Supreme Court was deadlocked 4-4 on this case after Justice Scalia passed away; Neil Gorsuch delivered to final blow Wednesday with the deciding vote.
Big victory for First Amendment rights of public employees:
“The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them.” https://t.co/tZrWG1MECW
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) June 27, 2018