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In union ruling, SCOTUS deals another blow to labor rights

In union ruling, SCOTUS deals another blow to labor rights
[Animation: Flickr user Matt Wade]

If you’re not a union member, you shouldn’t have to pay dues of any kind, according to a new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit by Mark Janus, a government employee in Illinois who didn’t agree with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees agenda, and therefore didn’t want to pay the union’s dues. Today, the nation’s highest court issued a 5-4 decision in support of Janus.

It’s bad news for unions, which often ask non-members to contribute financially to collective bargaining efforts they might ultimately benefit from. But the “free-rider” argument was not sufficiently compelling to the court because Janus didn’t agree with initiatives the union was bargaining for.

“Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning, and for this reason, one of our landmark free speech cases said that a law commanding ‘involuntary affirmation’ of objected-to beliefs would require ‘even more immediate and urgent grounds’ than a law demanding silence,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the final opinion.

This is just the latest conservative-leaning decision to come from the high court on labor rights. In May, the court held that employers may enforce arbitration agreements that waive worker rights to class action lawsuits and public proceedings in its ruling on National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA.

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