SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Koch-backed Union Busting Case

With two justices dissenting Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has revived a legal battle over whether the state's system for funding public schools violates the civil rights of students in poorer districts

With two justices dissenting Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has revived a legal battle over whether the state's system for funding public schools violates the civil rights of students in poorer districts

The justices agreed to hear a case brought by a non-union government employee in IL that targets fees that his state and many others compel such workers to pay to unions in lieu of dues to fund collective bargaining and other organized labor activities.

IL employee Mark Janus contends he shouldn't have to pay the fees because he is forced to support the speech of a union bargaining representative who is negotiating on political issues such as wages, pensions and benefits. "This significantly impinges on the First Amendment rights of each and every employee who did not choose to subsidize the union's advocacy".

Now that Neil Gorsuch has reestablished the conservative majority on the Court, there is little doubt that last year's 4-4 deadlock in the California case will become a 5-4 majority in Janus, overruling the 1977 decision and liberating state and local employees from the inconvenience of helping to defray costs associated with obtaining the wages, benefits, and workplace protections they enjoy.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the two groups backing Janus argue that his case would make a good vehicle for the Supreme Court to use to finally put Abood to rest.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday gave itself another chance to decide an issue that could choke off a vital source of money for unions around the country representing police, teachers and other government employees.

Half the states, including MI, have enacted right-to-work laws that say employees don't have to join a union or pay agency fees.

And the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia had left the conservative branch of the court with only four votes. Rauner asked a federal court to declare the fees unconstitutional and support his authority to issue the order.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has revived a lawsuit that contends the state is failing in its obligation to adequately fund public schools. It said public workers who refuse to join a union can still be required to pay for bargaining costs, as long as the fees don't go toward political purposes. Union membership in the US declined to just 10.7 percent of the workforce previous year, and the ranks of private-sector unions have been especially hard hit. But if these dues constitute compelled political speech, how can the state require anti-union workers to pay them?

The 1977 decision by the Supreme Court in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education held that government had an interest in promoting "labor peace" and preventing free-riding by employees.

Twenty-two states have not banned agency fee requirements, covering about 5 million public-sector workers. In those states, unions still represent workers but membership rates are lower.

Under the agency fee system, workers who do not join the union must pay a fee equal to union dues.

Both AFSCME and the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat who has clashed with Rauner, filed briefs urging the justices not to take up Janus's case.

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