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The Supreme Court Will Probably Strike a Huge Blow to Public-Sector Unions

Citations

National Review Online covers Janus v. AFSCME and CEI's brief in the case.

The Supreme Court has announced that it will hear the case Janus v. AFSCME. It will likely prove to be one of the most consequential labor-law cases in U.S. history. At issue is whether public-sector workers can be forced to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

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Currently, the dilemma is resolved state by state, with fights over “right to work” laws and “fair share” payments. The plaintiffs in Janus want to end the fight entirely as far as the public sector is concerned. They want the Supreme Court to say that it violates the First Amendment for a government labor contract to require workers to give money to a private organization.

They are correct.

Such a decision would overrule the 40-year-old Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Back then, the Court ruled that government workers could be required to pay their share of the costs of their unions’ core activities, such as handling contract negotiations and grievances. They could not, however, be required to support unions’ political actions. Thus workers who object to their unions’ political activities can pay “agency fees,” which are significantly less than full union dues.

Unsurprisingly, that has proven a difficult distinction to preserve. A brief in the current case from the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, for instance, notes that unions are allowed to use agency fees to fund their national conventions, which are hotbeds of openly partisan activism.

Read the full article at National Review Online.