Labor Movement's Worst Nightmare Heads Back to the Supreme Court

Labor Movement's Worst Nightmare Heads Back to the Supreme Court

Kerry Wise
September 29, 2017

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has revived a lawsuit that contends the state is failing in its obligation to adequately fund public schools.

The U.S. Supreme Court will again take up the question of whether making public sector workers pay fees to unions violates their First Amendment rights, saying Thursday it will review a Seventh Circuit decision ending an Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services worker's suit. The child-support specialist says that forcing him to pay union fees violates his First Amendment rights. The latest appeal is from a state employee in IL.

Now with the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court's ruling in the IL case could deal a major blow to public-sector unions nationwide if he sides with the conservative justices who were in favor of doing away with the unions' system.

Thus, while Janus will be a crushing blow to unions, it probably won't be the last one dealt by the Supreme Court.

In the last five years, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has criticized Abood's reasoning in at least two cases, though it has left the precedent standing.

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. "This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor", said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. 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.

Women in Saudi Arabia granted the right to drive
He also added that RDIF was in the final stage of negotiations with Saudi partners on major Russian projects in Saudi Arabia . Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women were not allowed behind the wheel.

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.

"We are now one step closer to freeing over 5 million public sector teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other employees from the injustice of being forced to subsidize a union as a condition of working for their own government", National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said in a statement.

Eighteen state attorneys general signed a friend of the court brief by the Michigan Attorney General's Office, which urges the justices to abandon the "meaningless distinction between collective bargaining and other political activity".

The Court looked set to strike down a similar law previous year in the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

Unions had been bracing for an unfavorable ruling after oral arguments in January indicated that a majority of the justices were skeptical of the fair share arrangement.