Skip to comments.Is the Supreme Court Gunning for Public-Sector Unions?
Posted on 07/02/2014 12:14:51 PM PDT by PoloSec
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Illinois violated the First Amendment when it forced home-care workers who receive government stipends to pay union dues to the Service Employees International Union. Writing for the 5-4 majority in Harris v. Quinn, Justice Samuel Alito ruled that the state exceeded its lawful authority by treating such workers as government employees solely for the purpose of unionization and the collection of an agency fee.
If we accepted Illinois argument, Alito explained, we would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support. Thus, The First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from personal assistants in the Rehabilitation Program who do not want to join or support the union.
It was a resounding defeat for the public-sector union movement, which no longer will enjoy the government-backed power to automatically enlist such workers in its ranks. But as Ned Resnikoff, a liberal critic of the Courts ruling, pointed out as MSNBC, the decision could have been worse for public-section unions.
Indeed it could. Also at issue in Harris was the scope of a 1977 Supreme Court precedent known as Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. In that case, the Court held that state employees who refuse to join the union may still be compelled to pay union dues. The primary purpose of permitting unions to collect fees from nonmembers, the Court said in Abood, is to prevent nonmembers from free-riding on the unions efforts, sharing the employment benefits obtained by the unions collective bargaining without sharing the costs incurred.
In Harris, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to revisit the propriety of its ruling in Abood. In Mondays decision, however, Justice Alito declined the opportunity to overrule that 1977 precedent. Yet despite leaving Abood on the books, Alito still spent nearly four pages of his Harris opinion detailing what he sees as Aboods failures and shortcomings, including the fact that a critical pillar of the Abood Courts analysis rests on an unsupported empirical assumption, and the fact that the Court did not foresee the practical problems that would face objecting nonmembers. As Alito put it, the Abood Courts analysis is questionable on several grounds.
What does this sharp language mean for the future of public-sector unions, which depend on Abood for mandatory union dues? Cato Institute legal scholar Andrew Grossman, who filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Abood, believes Mondays decision in Harris may signal a future ruling that would spell the end of compulsory support of public-sector unions. As Grossman argues:
While Harris is not a watershed opinion that remakes labor law consistent with First Amendment principles, it does put an end to the forced unionization of home-based workers, a practice that has spread to nearly a dozen states and had provided a substantial number of new workers to the labor movement in recent years. Harris also lays the groundwork for a challenge to what it calls Aboods questionable foundations. If recent Roberts Court precedents like Shelby County and Citizens United are any guide, Harris is a warning shot that the Abood regime is not long for this world and that the next case will be the one to vindicate all public workers First Amendment rights.
I certainly hope so.
Removing the requirement to pay union dues does not eliminate the union, imho. The whole notion of collective bargaining in government employment needs to be OUTLAWED. PERIOD.
The country will be a better place if unions withered on the vine. They may have served a purpose, but now they simply cause harm.
At the very least, employees should get to vote regularly (at least every two years) to keep the union, or shut it down. Where I worked at a state university, we NEVER had that option once we were unionized. I’m sure many who voted for the union originally would’ve loved to get back out when they saw what they’d be paying in dues.
Public sector unions should be outlawed until such a time that taxpayers are allowed to vote up/down on their contracts!
If they want to make demands of the taxpayers that pay them, then WE should have the right to reject their demands!
Indeed - public sector unions are inherently a corrupt concept.
You have two groups, unions and government, “negotiating” against a third party, the tax payer.
Exactly .. and the other issue is NOBODY CAN GET FIRED.
First you have to file a grievance .. etc., etc., etc.
That can takes months and years. Finally, the person still does not get fired for committing any kind of crime.
They usually just get transferred.
THAT HAS GOT TO CHANGE.
AND .. ADD THE FACT THAT THESE UNIONS ARE THE FUNDRAISING ARM OF THE DEMOCRATS.
Bingo! They get to elect those they bargain with, and company that allowed the union employees to hire the CEO would go bankrupt.
F.D.R. Warned Us
When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this unthinkable and intolerable.
/echo. Glaring conflict of interest.
Let’s hope so!
If they aren’t, they should be.
Time to resurrect this gem.
From our arguably most famous historical liberal :
Which, I might add, applies to public employee unions at all levels. More so than ever, today.