Conservative Group Backs Supreme Court Challenge to Forced Union Dues

Reuters covers CEI’s amicus brief filing in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 regarding forced union dues.

A business-backed think tank has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case challenging the ability of public sector unions to collect fees from nonmembers, saying the Chicago-based union at the center of the lawsuit has used the money to fund a range of divisive political activities.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute said in an amicus brief filed on Monday that Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has funded lobbying on minimum wage, voter identification, and gun control proposals, and a march protesting then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, even though many workers represented by the union don’t share its views. The CEI is represented by Baker & Hostetler.

Conservatives and business groups are renewing their efforts to get the high court to reverse course on its 1977 decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that said public sector unions may collect so-called agency fees from nonmembers and spend that money on activities “germane” to collective bargaining. Last year, the court deadlocked 4-4 in a separate challenge to Abood, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

The CEI in its brief asked the court to take up the National Right to Work Committee’s bid to overturn Abood in the case involving Council 31, which represents 75,000 public workers in Illinois. In its petition for certiorari filed last month, the right to work group said the fees violate the free speech and free association rights of workers who are not members of the union under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

On Monday, the CEI said that while unions are not allowed to use agency fees for overt political activities, Abood vastly expanded the types of activities that are considered germane to collective bargaining. That has allowed Council 31 and other unions to use nonmembers’ money to fund candidate rallies and advocacy on issues such as abortion and marijuana legalization.

Read the full story at Reuters.