Uncategorized

Trepidation over a union case before the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument today in a case that has some labor activists fearful that decades-long protection under the law may come to an end at the hands of the conservative court.

The case, Harris v. Quinn, brought by home healthcare aids who do not want to join a union and do not want to pay any amount for the union’s contract negotiation efforts, involves the issue of “fair share” fees.

As explained by Lyle Denniston in this detailed analysis of the case:

When a union is named as the bargaining agent for a group of workers, it is under a legal duty to represent all the workers, including those who refuse to join.  Under what is called the “agency shop” theory, all workers are not required to join the union, but they are required to pay through their dues a “fair share” of the union’s costs in representing them in bargaining over benefits and working conditions.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, on appeal from the Seventh Circuit, over objections from unions and from state and federal government officials — raising the specter that the high court might be veering towards upsetting established labor law.

As NPR’s Nina Totenberg notes here:

In the end, what makes this case remarkable is that the Supreme Court for decades has allowed public employee unions, and has allowed them to require mandatory fair share fees for non-members as long as those who do not join the union are not forced to pay for union political activities.

But the current conservative court has not been enamored with labor unions, hinting just two years ago that it might be time to revisit its decades of doctrine on this issue.

“If they say you can’t have an exclusive representative union, that would be a stake in the heart of not just unions in the public sector but all unions,” Smith says.

And if the court were to say unions could not have a mandatory fair share contribution to a recognized union, “you’d have a serious free rider problem,” he says, because people “would have no incentive to pay their share of the costs if they can free ride on everybody else.”

The bottom line, Smith says, is that an adverse ruling “would substantially weaken unions.”

Check Also

State Supreme Court rules retroactive application of teacher tenure repeal is unconstitutional

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

The UNC Board of Governors is holding its last meeting of 2017 Friday, where the latest of its many [...]

Just south of Candler off the Pisgah Highway is a lovely piece of property on Little Piney Mountain [...]

Veteran North Carolina education policy expert Kris Nordstrom has authored a new and vitally importa [...]

When Joni Robbins, a section chief in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, closes bidding next [...]

“All speech is free, but some speech is more free than others.” This seems to be the motto of the cu [...]

Trumpists prepare to raze another vital common good law It’s hard to keep up these days with the flo [...]

The post That’s how ‘Humbug’ is done appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

The solid citizens of Johnston County, N.C. – in a fateful quirk of geography – for several years ha [...]

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more


NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more