The Supreme Court could deal a major blow to public employee unions if justices decide that forcing non-members to support organized labor is a violation of the First Amendment, according to The New York Times.
Conservative justices on Monday appeared poised to agree with the closely watched case brought by ten California teachers, notes the report.
A ruling in the teachers’ favor would affect millions of government workers and culminate a political and legal campaign by a group of prominent conservative foundations aimed at weakening public-sector unions. Those unions stand to lose fees from both workers who object to the positions the unions take and those who simply choose not to join while benefiting from the unions’ efforts on their behalf.
Under California law, public employees who choose not to join unions must pay a “fair share service fee,” also known as an “agency fee,” typically equivalent to members’ dues. The fees, the law says, are meant to pay for collective bargaining activities, including “the cost of lobbying activities.” More than 20 states have similar laws.
Government workers who are not members of unions have long been able to obtain refunds for the political activities of unions like campaign spending. Monday’s case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915, asks whether such workers must continue to pay for any union activities, including negotiating for better wages and benefits. A majority of the justices seemed inclined to say no.
This is an important case to watch, because public employee jobs used to represent the pathway for African-American workers to enter the middle-class. But conservative lawmakers across the country have been chipping away at union protections, resulting in job losses for Blacks and other minorities. Sound off…