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m3n4.net November 25, 2017


Justices To Weigh Challenge To Public Sector Union Fees

29 September 2017, 12:25 | Tara Lloyd

Loretta Rush is the chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court

Loretta Rush is the chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court

Pennsylvania's highest court on Thursday revived a lawsuit that claims the state is failing in its obligation to students, a case that could eventually have a dramatic effect on the shape of public education in the state.

Scalia died in February 2016, just a month after the justices heard a similar case from California. But Gettleman allowed state workers who pay agency fees to sue public-sector unions. That ruling said that states could allow public-employee unions to collect fees from nonmembers to cover the costs of workplace negotiations but not to cover the union's political activities. Like a lot of conservative First Amendment jurisprudence these days (viz Citizens United, which cloaked unlimited campaign spending in constitutional protections), the likely decision may defy common sense or fundamental fairness.

"Abood acknowledged that certain labor-relations interests justify the small intrusion on employees' First Amendment interests that fair-share payments represent", the union argued.

The case stems from a fight between Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and public-sector unions over his 2015 executive order to stop the fees.

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"The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people", said Lee Saunders, President of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch on the steps of the Supreme Court on June 15.

"The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who do their bidding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom to come together in strong unions".

Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement on the Supreme Court ruling. He's being represented by attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation and the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center, which is an affiliate of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think-tank with close ties to Rauner.

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An Illinois law requires government workers who choose not to join a union to "pay their proportionate share of the costs of the collective bargaining process, contract administration and pursuing matters affecting wages, hours and conditions of employment".

IL employee Mark Janus contends he shouldn't have to pay the fees because he is forced to support the speech of a union bargaining representative who is negotiating on political issues such as wages, pensions and benefits.

Rauner hailed the court's decision to hear the case.

Unions had been bracing for an unfavorable ruling after oral arguments in January indicated that a majority of the justices were skeptical of the fair share arrangement.

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The case returns to Commonwealth Court, which had dismissed it on grounds that the lawsuit raised political questions that were not appropriate for the judiciary to settle.



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