US Supreme Court will hear public sector dues case

The new case concerns Mark Janus, who works for the state government in IL and is represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Public sector employees' union membership averages 17 percent in states that ban mandatory fees compared with 49 percent in states, such as OR, that allow mandatory fees, according to the research by the social scientists who wrote in support of the California Teachers Association.

That case, Friedrichs v. California Teacher's Association, was over the approximately $650 each teacher in California has to pay the union, despite the fact the union's political statements and bargaining activities may be in direct violation of any individual teacher's speech rights. The high court deadlocked on the issue previous year, but now there's a conservative majority among the justices.

The addition of Trump's appointee Neil Gorsuch in April restored the court's 5-4 conservative majority, as the new justice prepares to begin his first full term.

One case the court will consider comes from Pennsylvania and involves a man who drove a auto rented by his girlfriend.

The Supreme Court on Monday canceled arguments that had been scheduled for October 10 in what would have been the biggest case of the term, whether Trump's ban on people entering the United States from several Muslim-majority countries amounted to unconstitutional discrimination against Muslims.

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The Supreme Court is poised to deal a sharp blow to the unions that represent millions of teachers and other public employees, announcing Thursday it will consider striking down the mandatory fees that support collective bargaining.

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner first launched the current challenge by issuing an executive order in 2015 directing the state to stop taking union fees from state workers who were not union members. "This significantly impinges on the First Amendment rights of each and every employee who did not choose to subsidize the union's advocacy".

Currently, the dilemma is resolved state by state, with fights over "right to work" laws and "fair share" payments. Eventually, unions risk becoming starved for funds and collapsing, causing the workers once represented by a union to lose the benefits of collective bargaining. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Educationthat it is perfectly constitutional for public-sector unions to collect such fees from nonmembers. The National Education Association has about 87,000 fee-payers and the American Federation of Teachers has about 89,000, according to labor filings.

Public-sector unions have been a source of stability even as union membership has fallen to 14.6 million with 10.7 percent of workers as members, down from 17.7 million members, or 20.1 percent, in 1983.

Protester Josh Orton, a consultant for abortion-rights group NARAL, said if Gorsuch continues to make appearances that raise ethics questions "the Supreme Court will be in danger of losing its sacred reputation as a neutral arbiter of justice". They could not, however, be required to support unions' political actions.

Congressional Republicans have also introduced a bill aimed at making union dues and fees optional for all workers. The country's four largest public-sector unions are blasting the complaint as "a blatantly political and well-funded further rig the economic rules against everyday working people".

  • Adam Floyd