Conservatives across America who are forced to pay dues to employee unions to fund left-leaning activities – even speech to which they object – are getting another chance to escape that burden.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to address the issue in an Illinois case brought by Mark Janus, a child-support specialist who alleges forcing him to pay union fees violates the Constitution.
It was just over a year ago that the same question was before the court, but the challenge to the mandatory payments was unsuccessful, with four progressives on the court ruling in favor of the unions.
The sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia had left the conservative wing of the court with only four votes, and a 4-4 tie does not overturn a lower court’s ruling.
In that case, Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, a public-interest legal team representing educators in California who objected to mandatory funding of union activities they described as political, said the result was expected.
The new case centers on Janus’ complaint against the American Federation of State, Council and Municipal Employees Council 31.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner told the Sun-Times workers “should not be forced to give up a portion of their pay each month to fund public-sector union activity.”
The case will be before a U.S. Supreme Court with a ninth judge, Neil Gorsuch, who could join the four conservative votes and overturn a 40-year-old decision that allows public sector unions to demand fees from non-members to cover the costs of negotiating contracts.
“The stakes are high. Union membership in the U.S. declined to just 10.7 percent of the workforce last year, and the ranks of private-sector unions have been especially hard hit,” the paper said. ” About half of all union members now work for federal, state and local governments, and many are in states like Illinois, New York, and California that are largely Democratic and seen as friendly toward unions,” the report said. “About half of the states have laws covering so-called ‘fair share’ fees that cover bargaining costs for non-members.”
Janus targets a 1977 Supreme Court case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, that said workers must pay for union bargaining costs whether they are members of the union or not.
According to Fox News, the case has the potential “to strike a financial blow against Democratic-leaning unions that represent government workers.”
Early in 2016, WND reported the decision could affect laws in 23 states.
At that time, nine California teachers challenged the requirement because they object to paying for what they call the political side of the collective bargaining work.
They claim was that such use of their funds violates the First Amendment.
The case, Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association, was over the approximately $650 each teacher in California must pay the union, despite the fact the union’s political statements and bargaining activities may be in direct violation of any individual teacher’s speech rights.
Supporters of the case explained: “These fees support work on collective bargaining agreements that enshrine policies like teacher tenure, last in-first out layoff rules, and school assignments based on seniority, not need. The plaintiff teachers object to the union’s positions on these political issues and say being forced to fund them as a condition of employment in a public school is unconstitutional.”
Pell said a union “cannot claim to represent the interest of all workers if there is ongoing doubt about the constitutionality of its forcible collection of millions of dollars in dues.”