Case #1: Harris v. Quinn.
In a narrow decision, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled in Harris v. Quinn that home health care workers in Illinois cannot be compelled to join a union. An Illinois statute that requires home health care workers to support a union to lobby for its interests with state legislators and regulators
SCOTUS precedent (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 1977) upheld the requirement that members of public (not private) employee unions must pay dues. However, in Knox v. SEIU (2010), Justice Alito wrote for the majority and questioned Abood, noting that collective bargaining in the public sector is "inherently political":
Because a public-sector union takes many positions during collective
bargaining that have powerful political and civic consequences...
compulsory fees constitute a form of compelled speech and association
that imposes a significant impingement on First Amendment rights.
So does or does not Abood require members of public employee unions to pay dues? Justice Alito has opened the door for a direct challenge to Abood, namely, that members of public employee unions do not have to pay dues to support the unions' political agenda.
Case #2: Friedrichs v. CTA.
Out in the "Eureka State," a lawsuit directly challenges Abood. Sounding similar to Justice Alito in Harris v. Quinn, the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. CTA (the California Teachers Union) are challenging the State's requirement that teachers must pay dues for collective bargaining activities. The plantiff's'claim that all union dues should be voluntary, not mandatory.
The lawsuit alleges that state "agency shop" laws--which require public employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment--violate well-settled principles of freedom of speech and association. Thus, even though the majority of teachers may support the union, the minority does not and, the plaintiffs argue, the State of California cannot constitutionally compel individuals (in this instance, the minority) to join and financially support organizations with which those individuals disagree. Additionally, the plantiffs again sound similar to Justice Alito in Harris v. Quinn as they argue collective bargaining in the public sphere is necessarily political.
When Friedrichs v. CTA is decided, any appeal would likely be fast-tracked to SCOTUS, given the number of similar pending cases in states including Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana.
The unions bosses appear to be getting worried and well they should. For decades, they've been able tend the bar which, in turn, has allowed them extract confiscatory taxes--in the form of "dues"--from members to advance the unions' political agenda...and it might be added, laden the union bosses' wallets with mighty fine salaries.
But, "the times they are a' changing." Perhaps in two years, the bar's owners will be replacing those unionized bartenders with scabs in a free labor market.
Let the discussion begin...
To read about the Harris v. Quinn decision, click on the following link:
To read about the Friedrichs v. CTA lawsuit, click on the following link: