#1 Supreme Court Ends Compulsory Public Sector Union Dues, 5-4 by algernonpj 27.06.2018 14:32


Supreme Court Ends Compulsory Public Sector Union Dues, 5-4
Alex Wong / Getty
27 Jun 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Janus v. AFSCME on Wednesday, ruling 5-4 that public sector unions could no longer compel non-members to pay dues because it violated their First Amendment rights.

The decision is a major victory for free speech and for workers’ rights — and a major setback for public sector unions, who have emerged in recent decades as a powerful left-wing political force.

Mark Janus, the Illinois state employee who challenged compulsory dues, had been required to pay about $535 per year, even though he opposed his union’s positions on many issues in its collective bargaining.

Under the precedent established in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), public sector unions could not force non-members to contribute to their political activities, but could compel them to pay dues toward collective bargaining.

That precedent looked shaky, however, as workers sued unions, arguing that many of the unions’ collective bargaining activities were inherently political. Abood was expected to be overturned in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (2016), but the death of Justice Antonin Scalia left the court deadlocked, 4-4.

But President Donald Trump’s victory later that year paved the way for the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch — after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had stalled the confirmation of Obama nominee Merrick Garland — and the Court found another chance to overturn Abood.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the Court’s conservative majority, wrote (original emphasis):

Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned.

Compelling a person to subsidize the speech of other private speakers raises similar First Amendment con­cerns.

Whatever may have been the case 41 years ago when Abood was handed down, it is now unde­ niable that “labor peace” can readily be achieved “through means significantly less restrictive of associational free­ doms” than the assessment of agency fees.

Petitioner [Mark Janus] strenuously objects to this free-rider label. He argues that he is not a free rider on a bus headed for a destination that he wishes to reach but is more like a person shanghaied for an unwanted voyage.

Unions can also speak out in collective bargaining on controversial subjects such as climate change, the Confederacy,sexual orientation and gender identity, evolu­tion, and minority religions. These are sensitive politi­cal topics, and they are undoubtedly matters of profound “‘value and concern to the public.’”

Abood is also an “anomaly” in our First Amendment jurisprudence … It is an odd feature of our First Amend­ment cases that political patronage has been deemed largely unconstitutional, while forced subsidization of union speech (which has no such pedigree) has been largely permitted.

We recognize that the loss of payments from nonmem­ bers may cause unions to experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term, and may require unions to make adjustments in order to attract and retain members. But we must weigh these disadvantages against the consider­ able windfall that unions have received under Abood for the past 41 years. It is hard to estimate how many bil­ lions of dollars have been taken from nonmembers and transferred to public-sector unions in violation of the First Amendment. Those unconstitutional exactions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely.

For these reasons, States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employ­ees.

Justice Elena Kagan led the dissent (with Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing a smaller dissent of her own). Kagan argued (original emphasis):


#2 RE: Supreme Court Ends Compulsory Public Sector Union Dues, 5-4 by Cincinnatus 27.06.2018 19:42


#3 RE: Supreme Court Ends Compulsory Public Sector Union Dues, 5-4 by algernonpj 04.07.2018 19:18



Turns Out, Those Forced Union Dues Did Go To Liberal Advocacy Groups

First Amendment: After the Supreme Court ruling that banned forced union dues for public sector workers, liberal activist groups started complaining about how they were going to lose a huge source of funds. Wait? Didn't unions repeatedly claim that those forced dues only went to collective bargaining costs?

The court case, Janus v. AFSCME, centered on the practice in 22 states, whereby public-sector workers could be forced to pay a portion of the union dues, even if they didn't join the union. The court ruled 5-4 that this was a violation of free speech, because it meant that government was forcing nonunion workers to subsidize political advocacy, candidates and policies they don't support.

Throughout the debate, big public-sector unions insisted that those forced dues were perfectly reasonable. Since nonunion members also benefited from union collective bargaining deals with state and local governments, it made sense for them to cover their share of those collective bargaining costs. The unions called it "fair share" fees.

None of those forced dues, unions emphatically stated, went to political causes, so there was no free-speech violation.

"The simple truth is that no one is forced to join a union and no one is forced to pay any fees that go to politics or political candidates. That is already the law of the land," is how the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees put it.

But this week, the New York Times published a lengthy story explaining how the Janus decision will not only hit public sector unions but "will also hit hard at a vast network of groups dedicated to advancing liberal policies and candidates."

These groups, the Times reports, got tens of millions of dollars from public sector unions — "funding now in jeopardy because of the prospective decline in union revenue."

The giant Service Employees International Union says it cut its budget by 30% on the assumption that the court would rule against the unions in the Janus case. The Times says it "had been talking with leaders of liberal groups for two years about how to offset the loss."

Public-union money accounted for up to 15% of the Economic Policy Institute's budget, the story notes. EPI puts out pro-union studies that the press then reports as credible research. Pro-immigrant group Mi Familia Vota was getting about $1 million a year from public unions. America Votes got $2 million in 2016.

So how is that — if none of the forced dues went to pay for anything other than collective bargaining — all these liberal activist groups are worried about having their gravy train cut off?

Surely the loss of those "fair share" fees would only come out of the unions' collective bargaining budget, not the massive amounts of money they spend supporting liberal groups and causes. Right?

Money Is Fungible

Unions might say that losing all that "fair share" money means they'll have to shift money from other activities to cover reduced collective bargaining dollars.

But that just underscores the fact that money is fungible. By forcing nonunion members to pay "fair share" fees, unions could free up substantial amounts of funds — that otherwise would have been spent on collective bargaining — to pay for political activism.

What's more, unions had fairly wide discretion over what counted as "collective bargaining," for which they could directly charge nonunion members.



#4 RE: Supreme Court Ends Compulsory Public Sector Union Dues, 5-4 [ Kagan's perspective -- "creates Nightmarish Proportions" ] by ThirstyMan 05.07.2018 09:54


Majority Creates ‘Problem of Nightmarish Proportions’ for Nation’s Public Unions

In a scathing dissent to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision forbidding government workers from being forced to pay for collective bargaining, Justice Elena Kagan noted with some understatement a reality that teachers unions have long known and feared: The 5-4 ruling, she said, will “have large-scale consequences.”

“Public employee unions will lose a secure source of financial support,” she wrote. “State and local governments … will need to find new ways of managing their workforces. Across the country, the relationships of public employees and employers will alter in both predictable and wholly unexpected ways.”

In the “predictable” camp: Unions will undoubtedly lose membership, funding, and, therefore, influence. A recent University of Illinois study estimated that public-sector unions could lose more than 700,000 members as a result of the ruling. In the majority opinion, the court established the equivalent of a right-to-work model for public workers all over the U.S. Undoing 41 years of precedent, the likely result is that many teachers who are now content to pay for union membership will think of their wallets first and opt not to.

Less clear, according to Kagan, is how the more than 20 states that currently authorize such fair-share provisions will deal with suddenly having to “come up with new ways — elaborated in new statutes — to structure relations between government employers and their workers.” The ruling affects thousands of current contracts covering millions of workers. Kagan, born and raised in Manhattan, noted that New York City alone has agreed to agency fees in 144 contracts with 97 public-sector unions. The court acted, she wrote, “with no real clue of what will happen next — of how its action will alter public-sector labor relations.”

In what is perhaps the dissent’s most acid passage, Kagan took direct aim at the conservative majority’s oft-espoused embrace of precedent and the right of states to manage their own affairs.

“The majority’s road runs long,” she wrote. “And at every stop are black-robed rulers overriding citizens’ choices.”

The majority, she said, “wanted to pick the winning side in what should be — and until now, has been — an energetic policy debate. Some state and local governments (and the constituents they serve) think that stable unions promote healthy labor relations and thereby improve the provision of services to the public. Other state and local governments (and their constituents) think, to the contrary, that strong unions impose excessive costs and impair those services. Americans have debated the pros and cons for many decades — in large part, by deciding whether to use fair-share arrangements. Yesterday, 22 states were on one side, 28 on the other (ignoring a couple of in-betweeners).”

“Today,” she concluded, “that healthy — that democratic — debate ends.”

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, dug in more deeply than recent court precedent, harking back to the nation’s founding documents and the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right of free association.

“When speech is compelled … additional damage is done,” Alito wrote. “In that situation, individuals are coerced into betraying their convictions. Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning…”

People like Mark Janus, the Illinois child support specialist at the heart of matter, are often described as “free riders” by union activists because they may reap the benefits of union bargaining without having to pay for it. But Janus, in Alito’s words, “argues that he is not a free rider on a bus headed for a destination that he wishes to reach but is more like a person shanghaied for an unwanted voyage.”

Interestingly, the fiery matchup between Kagan and Alito pitted two justices born into families of teachers. Kagan’s mother taught at Hunter College Elementary School, and she has two brothers who teach at public schools. Alito’s father was a high school teacher and his mother is a retired schoolteacher.

Although Janus himself is not an educator, the case that bears his name largely wrestled with a precedent that grew out of tensions in the nation’s public schools. The case overturned Wednesday is Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, in which the 1977 Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Motor City’s teachers union over public school teachers who objected to paying union dues for collective bargaining. Abood acknowledged the rights of workers not to join the union and not to finance disagreeable political behavior. But given that unions have a legal duty to represent everyone equally, the court aimed to thwart the free-rider problem by allowing unions to compel dues.

In his ruling, Alito led the conservative wing of the court in giving short shrift to the notion that the loss of such fees poses an existential threat to unions. While acknowledging unions could “experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term,” he said such discomfort must be weighed against “the considerable windfall that unions have received … for the past 41 years.”

Kagan and her liberal colleagues disagreed. She wrote that the court’s decision “creates a collective action problem of nightmarish proportions.”

“There is no sugarcoating today’s opinion,” she wrote. “The majority overthrows a decision entrenched in this nation’s law — and in its economic life — for over 40 years. As a result, it prevents the American people, acting through their state and local officials, from making important choices about workplace governance. And it does so by weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy.”


#5 RE: Supreme Court Ends Compulsory Public Sector Union Dues, 5-4 [ Kagan's perspective -- "creates Nightmarish Proportions" ] by Cincinnatus 05.07.2018 16:39


Crazy country when freedom of choice means you can kill your baby, but not whether you can join a union.

#6 RE: Supreme Court Ends Compulsory Public Sector Union Dues, 5-4 [ Kagan's perspective -- "creates Nightmarish Proportions" ] by PzLdr 05.07.2018 16:57


Quote: Cincinnatus wrote in post #5
Crazy country when freedom of choice means you can kill your baby, but not whether you can join a union.

The estrogenation of America...

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