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High court ruling could financially hurt public sector unions


AUGUST 2015, LEHIGH VALLEY Edition of The Union News

High court ruling could financially hurt public sector unions


REGION, July 22nd- The United States Supreme Court will hear a case in the fall session that could result in public sector labor organizations to represent workers that refuse to join the union and not help finance the expense of their representation.

The high court stated in late June it would consider during the next term whether public employees must pay fees to labor organizations that they have refused to join but receive the negotiated wage and working conditions under the terms and conditions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between governments and unions.

The Supreme Court ruled forty years ago that states could allow labor unions to collect fees, often called ‘agency fee’ from nonmember government workers to help pay collective bargaining cost. However, the employee could be excluded from paying anything toward the labor organizations spending on political involvement. Federal workers were not a part of the ruling with most involving state and school workers including teachers.

Most union haters and pro-business conservatives on the court in 1977 were critical of the ruling which was called “Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education’.

The union haters have stated that it was unfair for unions to receive fees from workers that do not want to join the union. However, the labor organization must still represent the worker(s) should he or she be fired and will receive the wage and benefits that was negotiated between the labor organization and management.

The United States Supreme Court could rule against any government worker from paying compulsory dues, which would financially hurt the labor organization. Rebecca Friedrichs, a California teacher who has refused to join the California Teachers Association, which is affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA) brought the case against the Union stating that the union was infringing against her First Amendment right of free-speech.

She has claimed that her First Amendment rights were violated despite that none of the fees collected from her is used for political activities. Her backers have argued that she and anti-union workers like her should not be compelled to fund collective bargaining techniques and positions which they disagree.

Unions such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the NEA would be the most effected should the court rule in favor of Ms. Friedrichs.

“Unions have a right to collect a fair share from the people they represent, regardless of whether the people want to pay,” stated Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT.