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30 September 2017, 07:16 | Christie Tate
Justices To Weigh Challenge To Public Sector Union Fees
Conservatives will look for a boost from the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, in a year that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said will be momentous.
On Monday, the court will hear arguments in Murphy Oil v. NLRB and two related cases, where they could find that workers must take all disputes with bosses - including disputes covered by labor law, such as over wages and working conditions - to mandatory arbitration, giving up their right to sue under labor law if they lose. That would be a formidable challenge for the unions.
To prevent this free-rider problem, union contracts often include a provision requiring non-members to pay agency fees.
AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says this is an ongoing attack by large corporations to diminish rights of working people. The court issued a 4-4 split decision that left the existing system intact.
At risk is the precedent in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the 1977 Supreme Court decision that authorized public-employee unions to charge so-called agency or fair-share fees to employees in the bargaining unit who refuse to join the union. Those who disagree can get a rebate on the "political" part of their union dues but must pay the part of dues that go toward collective bargaining and the like, sometimes called agency fees or fair-share fees. The fees help pay for those efforts. All public employees in the US will, in effect, be treated as though they were in a right to work state.
Unions are required by law to bargain on behalf of every worker in a unionized shop, even if those workers opt not to join the union.
AFSCME also argues that "fair share fees" which was put into law in 1977, are in place because unions are required to representall employees, regardless if they are in the union or not. That fee can only cover collective bargaining costs and not political activities.
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The Janus case was initially brought to federal court, in 2015, by Illinois' Republican governor, Bruce Rauner. Our Never Trump friends should acknowledge that if Hillary Clinton had won the election, she would have appointed a justice to succeed Antonin Scalia who would have voted to keep public employees in a state of involuntary servitude to the unions, and the Democratic Party, forever. "It's not going to be a one-way deal anymore". American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31. However, the people behind this case simply do not believe that working people deserve the same freedoms they have: "to negotiate a fair return on their work", they added.
Friedrichs, libertarian groups, and a group of states led by MI also filed briefs urging the court to take Janus's case. The court stopped just short of overruling Abood, but Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote some 10 pages questioning Abood's constitutional underpinnings.
Labor unions have been under sustained attack at the high court in recent years.
But the Janus case, which already was making its way through the courts, gives justices another opportunity to settle the question.
The Supreme Court yesterday agreed to listen to arguments in the "Janus" case.
In this case, IL state child protective worker Mark Janus is objecting to being forced to pay fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME which represents him.
The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would decide a case that could see the last bedrock of the labor movement starved of funding. The governor also filed a lawsuit in federal court, asking it to affirm his decision was legal.
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