- After some pointed questions from the conservative majority, the U.S. Supreme Court may deal a serious blow to the idea of forcing public workers to support unions, according to the New York Times.
- Under current California law (and in the case before the Court), public employees rejecting union membership still need to pay a “fair share service fee,” also known as an “agency fee,” roughly the same amount as member dues, according to the Times, which adds that more than 20 states have similar laws on the books.
- If the plaintiffs (teachers in this case) win, millions of state government workers would be affected and their unions could lose funding from workers who don't want to pay the fees for several reasons, the Times reports.
Non-union government workers can obtain refunds for the political activities of unions (such as campaign spending). But this case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, is about whether those workers have to keep paying for any union activities, including "negotiating for better wages and benefits." According to the Times, a majority of the justices "seemed inclined to say no."
The Times article said that Justice Antonin Scalia has been considered an ally for the unions based on past writings and comments, but he was "consistently hostile" during Monday's arguments. At one point he added that the consequences for public unions were hardly dire if the plaintiffs win.
“Why do you think that the union would not survive without these fees charged to nonmembers of the union?” Justice Scalia asked. “Federal employee unions do not charge agency fees to nonmembers, and they seem to survive. Indeed, they prosper.”
The decision is expected in June.