Supreme Court to Decide on Power of Public Sector Unions

Sep 29, 2017, 00:22
Supreme Court to Decide on Power of Public Sector Unions

"We are pleased the Supreme Court has agreed to take up this case and revisit a 40-year-old precedent that has allowed governments to violate the First Amendment rights of millions of workers", said Liberty Justice Center's Jacob Huebert in a statement.

The case, Janus v. AFSCME, began in 2015, when the state's governor at a time, Bruce Rauner, a Republican, went to court arguing that the union fee requirement is unconstitutional. The child-support specialist says that forcing him to pay union fees violates his First Amendment rights.

One last point: Janus involves only public-sector unions, or unions composed of state employees.

A ruling allowing workers to refuse to pay the fees would be the culmination of a decades-long campaign by conservative groups aimed at weakening unions that represent public employees. If the fees weren't mandatory, workers could become free riders, benefiting from union representation without paying for it, according to a branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that represents Janus and other IL workers.

The states compare the requirement of public employees to subsidize union activities to "forced subsidization of a political party".

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. Justice Scalia's replacement, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, has voted consistently with the court's more conservative members and is likely to supply a fifth vote against the unions. Public sector unions could lose a substantial source of income if the court rules against them, according to the article.

The 1977 decision by the Supreme Court in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education held that government had an interest in promoting "labor peace" and preventing free-riding by employees.

The decision to hear the case sparked a new round of concern among union leaders, who have been fighting for years in courthouses and legislatures to preserve agency fees. He also has questioned the restrictions on using fair share money for political purposes, saying it's impossible to separate political activities because public-sector unions negotiate directly with the government.

The clash adds to a Supreme Court term that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has already predicted will be "momentous".

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman in Chicago dismissed Rauner's complaint, ruling that the governor had no legal standing to bring the case and that the court lacked jurisdiction to decide the matter.

Unions had been bracing for an unfavorable ruling after oral arguments in January indicated that a majority of the justices were skeptical of the fair share arrangement. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, No. 16-1466, asked the court to overrule the Abood decision.

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