SCOTUS decision hits labor unions where it hurts

June 28, 2018

In a 5-4 decision, written for the Conservative majority by Justice Samuel Alito on June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court found that public-sector workers who are not union members—but who are, nevertheless, represented by a union for bargaining purposes—cannot be required to pay “fair share” union dues.

According to a report by The Washington Post, the resolution of the case,  Janus v. the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31, effectively makes the entire U.S. public sector a “right-to-work” zone. As a result, millions of public employees will have the choice to no longer support unions that must continue to bargain on their behalf.

The latest finding by the court effectively overruled the high court’s decision in the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Education Association case on the grounds that it “was not well-reasoned.”

As the Huffington Post detailed, Janus, as the case was known, was widely seen as the” biggest judicial threat to organized labor in years, if not decades.” The news outlet further noted that, “The ruling in favor of Mark Janus [a state-employed child-support specialist in Illinois] … has the potential to squeeze some of the largest and most powerful unions in the country, reducing their clout in the workplace as well as in national and local politics.”

Alito was joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas, Kennedy, and Gorsuch in the majority decision; Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Kagan dissented.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the minority, said that the decision will have “large scale consequences,” and that “judicial disruption does not get any greater than what the court does today,” as reported by The Hill.

Reading her scathing comments from the bench, Kagan said the majority vote had turned “the First Amendment into a sword and [used] it against workaday economic and regulatory policy.”

In a poll conducted before the court voted by Public Opinion Strategies  and covered by Yahoo!, more than 400 government workers were asked whether they should be required to pay union dues to be represented for bargaining purposes. Fully 62% said they should be allowed to stop paying dues, if they so chose; 33% said they should be mandated to continue paying dues.

The unions rely on the dues of non-members to survive.

Research contact: @POStqia

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