Washington, DC – The Supreme Court recently ruled that government workers who choose not to join a union cannot be charged for the cost of collective bargaining. What do our lawmakers and politicians in Pennsylvania think?
The Supreme Court vote was predictable 5-4. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, and the conservatives on the court voted with him.
“Under Illinois law, public employees are forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities. We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”
The decision reverses a precedent that is 4 decades old. Laws in 22 states would be affected.
The plaintiff in the case is Mark Janus, a child-support specialist for the state of Illinois. Janus had challenged a requirement that government workers who opt out of a union still have to pay partial dues to cover the union’s cost of negotiation and other functions.
In 1977, the Supreme Court had drawn a distinction between voluntary union dues (which could be used for political activity) and ones that were required, such mandatory “agency fees.” Wednesday’s decision erases that distinction. The court’s decision found that public sector union are, as they say “inherently political” and nonmembers cannot be compelled to pay for them.
What do our politicians say?
REPRESENTATIVE GLENN GT THOMPSON
“Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling justly reaffirmed the rights of an individual working in the public sector to either freely associate with a union, or choose not to automatically contribute a portion of their hard-earned paycheck to an organization they do not want to associate with. This ruling is about the rights of the individual as granted under the U.S. Constitution.
“This decision impacts only public sector employees, and the National Labor Relations Act already protects the rights of privately-employed individuals to choose whether they would like to be a part of a union. As a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I certainly recognize the important role unions can play in our society – especially when it comes to the excellent training and apprenticeship programs they offer to prepare tomorrow’s workforce.”
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued the following statement supporting workers’ organizing rights.
“In Pennsylvania, public-employee unions play a vital role, from striving for fair wages to protecting workers’ rights,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Unions give workers a voice and make government operate more effectively. Unions are required to represent all workers, even workers who don’t join the union. That’s why our state law recognizes that it’s only fair that employees who benefit from a union’s representation help pay for the cost of that representation. I’m proud to be part of a coalition of 21 Attorneys General fighting to protect unions and employees’ rights.”
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