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CEI Supports Workers, First Amendment in Supreme Court Forced Union Dues Case

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today filed a U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief in support of a child support specialist with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services who argues that he should not be compelled to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. CEI’s brief in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 documents the widespread union practice of using compelled dues to pay for controversial political advocacy and causes, in violation of the First Amendment rights of state and local public sector workers.

“Public sector unions have shown unbridled creativity in directing fees paid by non-union members to fund overtly political and ideological causes, like voter-identification laws, gun control, marijuana legalization and the politics of the racial justice movement,” said Andrew Grossman, a partner with the firm of Baker & Hostetler, which filed the brief pro bono on CEI’s behalf. “We hope the Supreme Court recognizes the harm done when the government compels people to support principles, policy positions, and political endorsements they believe to be abhorrent and immoral.”

“For too long, the government has forced workers to pay for controversial political activities by unions that they do not support and that have nothing to do with union representation,” said Trey Kovacs, a CEI labor policy expert. “The Supreme Court should provide choice over whether to pay for labor union representation for millions of teachers, fire fighters, and other public employees. State and local public workers deserve the right to choose who speaks for them, a right their federal counterparts have long enjoyed.”

The CEI brief delves into specific instances when the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the Service Employees International Union used agency fees paid by non-union members to advocate on controversial political issues. AFSCME’s 2016 election year convention featured a lengthy “AFSCME FOR HILLARY” program and speech by the candidate herself. The convention also called for gun control legislation and opposition to voter-identification laws. Meanwhile, an American Federation of Teachers annual convention endorsed public funding for abortion provider Planned Parenthood and other controversial political goals.

The court has not yet announced a date for oral argument in the case, but it is expected to be early in 2018.

> View the amicus brief on CEI.org