Supreme Court Rules Against Mandatory Union Dues

The case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (Janus v. ASCME), No. 16-1466 (June 27, 2018), is a landmark decision is which the U.S. Supreme Court held public sector employees, specifically those in state and local government,  cannot be required to pay membership fees if they do not want to belong to a union.

Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977),  that  state and local governments can require public employees who do not join the union be required to pay partial “fair share” fees to offset the costs of collective bargaining – negotiating and administering the contract that the non-union members benefit from, even though there is no requirement they  join the union.  The rationale is these employees receive the same benefits, including salary, vacation, sick-leave, etc. The opponents who influenced the Supreme Court argued, among other reasons, an employee should not be forced to join a Union that advocates changes to and, therefore, influences public policy; the Court concluded mandatory fees violated workers’ free speech rights who are entitled to disagree with the positions taken by a union.

Those that favor the Court’s ruling contend public employees should not be forced to pay union dues (fees) as a condition of working for the government entity. Unions will now have to establish greater value if they want to maintain and/or increase the current levels of membership.

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