March 18, 2018

Gorsuch silent as divided Supreme Court spars over labor unions

02 March 2018, 04:49 | Christie Tate

Jonathan Alcorn Reuters Union members cheer during a AFSCME rally at Mac Arthur Park in Los Angeles

Jonathan Alcorn  Reuters
Union members cheer during a AFSCME rally at Mac Arthur Park in Los Angeles

JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS/NewscomMark Janus remembers getting his first pay check from the Illinois Department of Public Health, where he works as a bookkeeper, and wondering about the $50 fee deducted to pay dues to a union he'd never agreed to join.

A case that was heard Monday in the US Supreme Court and to be decided later on this year could have a big impact on public worker unions in NY.

Demonstrators on both sides protested outside the Supreme Court Monday as the justices considered the constitutionality of requiring non-union members to pay fees to public employee unions.

The case was a challenge to an IL law that requires government workers who choose not to join unions to "pay their proportionate share of the costs of the collective bargaining process, contract administration and pursuing matters affecting wages, hours and other conditions of employment".

He said the union uses his monthly fees "to promote an agenda I don't support", objecting to the legislation supported by the union's lobbying arm and politicians supported by its political arm.

During the case in 2016, the 325,000-member California Teachers Association warned that tens of thousands of contracts governing millions of workers nationwide could be thrown into disarray if the Supreme Court upended fair-share fees. She said contracts would have to be redone in 23 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico because laws on the issue in those jurisdictions would then become unconstitutional.

Pro-union speakers said they are not confident of a victory at the Supreme Court, which is ruled by a conservative majority of five justices.

For obvious reasons, that means all eyes in this case will be fixed on the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch.

He went on: "I'm asking you whether or not in your view, if you do not prevail in this case, the unions will have less political influence; yes or no?"

Bettmann via Getty Images
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is surrounded by leaders of the striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968
Bettmann via Getty Images Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is surrounded by leaders of the striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968

Worthington says it's too early to write off the power of workers coming together to bargain for equitable conditions, and points to a list of advances made possible by unions, including child labor laws and weekends. "But I don't want to pay a union to do so", Janus said in a February 26 essay in USA Today.

They got support from Justice Samuel Alito, who said that "throughout history many people have drawn a line between a restriction on their speech and compelled speech".

Green also argues, whether they like it or not, Janus and others benefit from what unions do for them, and still will even if they don't pay dues. Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who did most of the talking in support of the mandatory fees, grasped at straws rather than confronting head-on the free-speech rights of public employees like teachers, police officers and firefighters.

"I truly believe that working people understand the benefit of unions and why unions matters", he said.

Frederick told reporters afterward that Gorsuch appeared attentive during his oral argument and took notes, which he considers a good sign.

His case, which is being backed by the anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, is part of a decades-long offensive against labor representation by conservative organizations.

"Property and contract rights, the statutes of many states and the livelihoods of millions of individuals affected all at once", she said.

In advance of a similar Supreme Court case two years ago, the unions embarked on a campaign to make the case to members about why they should pay dues voluntarily.

"When have we ever done something like that?"

Europa League Won't Distract Arsenal — Mkhitaryan
Manchester United legend Roy Keane has stuck the boot into Arsenal following a shambolic performance at home to Ostersunds . It returned to the continent's second-tier competition after a disappointing group phase in this season's Champions League.

Other News

Trending Now

US stuns Sweden to win first Olympic gold in men's curling
It was a day of sporting ignominy for hockey-mad Canada, winners of the last two Olympic gold medals in men's ice hockey. Germany stunned defending champions Canada 4-3 Friday to reach the men's Olympic ice hockey final for the first time .

Trump argues for arming teachers to stop school shootings
Authorities say he was armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 assault-style rifle that he had purchased legally a year ago . Numerous teenagers and their parents taking part have called for more curbs on guns.

Soaring On Strong Earnings — NVIDIA (NVDA) Stock
It increased, as 45 investors sold NVDA shares while 282 reduced holdings. 23 funds opened positions while 58 raised stakes. In related news, Director Persis Drell sold 606 shares of the company's stock in a transaction on Wednesday, December 20th.

South Africa beats India to set up T20 series decider
Pandya was one of the most economical bowlers for India on the night when the South African batsmen were in sublime form. Here, we look at the key talking points ahead of Wednesday's clash. "It was one of our most balanced performances".

After the Parkland school shooting, Pearl Jam has a message to lawmakers
As British columnist Dan Hodges noted on Twitter in 2015: "In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the USA gun control debate". Obviously a gun does not have a mind of its own so firearms personification is a sick game and the wrong approach to the problem.

South Korean President: Ties with the USA 'as strong as ever'
As with North Korean media over the weekend, the KCNA report again made no mention of the summit offer made to Moon. North Korea's Kim Jong Un responded to this gesture by agreeing to send his athletes and his sister to those games.

Arsene Wenger speaks ahead of Carabao Cup Final
England forward Sterling, who is struggling with a muscle injury and missed the Wigan match, will be assessed ahead of the final. I am not so dramatic in the good moments when there are nice words about us, and I am also not so dramatic when you lose a game.

Huawei MediaPad M5 and MediaPad M5 Pro with M-Pen Stylus Launched
All three have 2K resolution LCD screens , Harman Kardon speakers and at least 10 hours of battery for video playback. Android tablets are a dying breed, but that doesn't stop OEMs from putting one on the market from time to time.

I never said 'give teachers guns': Trump slams media
He has also floated - in listening sessions , on Twitter , and most recently at CPAC - giving guns to school workers. Trump sounded confident of his ability to get the NRA onside. "I really think the NRA wants to do what's right".

The Highlights From Team USA's Gold Medal Game Against Canada Are Awesome
Canada had won four straight Olympic golds, three times beating the United States in the final including twice in overtime. While the U.S. team was understandably excited about their wins, one member of Canada's team was decidedly not.