The Law at Work: U.S. Supreme Court says no to union fees in government workplace
In his The Law at Work column in the Union-Tribune, Shareholder Dan Eaton discusses a major ruling the U.S. Supreme Court issued in late June. In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the court ruled that states such as California may no longer require state or local government employees represented by a union in their workplace, but who choose not to be union members, to pay an “agency” fee to the union. The high court ruled that requiring dissenting nonmembers to pay such fees violates their First Amendment right not to subsidize speech with which they disagree. An agency fee covers the nonmember’s share of the cost of collective bargaining and grievance arbitration on the nonmember’s behalf, but excludes the small portion of full union dues that funds the union’s political activities. A central justification for these mandatory agency fees is that it keeps nonmembers from “free-riding” off the benefit of higher pay and other benefits the union negotiates on behalf of nonmembers and members alike. Dan expects the California legislature to enact legislation next year that will limit the projected financial blow of this ruling on public sector unions.
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