The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Wednesday that non-union workers cannot be forced to pay fees to public sector unions.
The case, one of the most hotly anticipated of the term, concerns whether public employees can be forced to pay fees that fund the work of public sector unions. Some experts have said that a holding in favor of Janus would be the most significant court decision affecting collective bargaining in decades.
Mark Janus, an employee at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Human Services, asked the court last summer to overrule a 40-year-old Supreme Court decision. It found that public sector unions could require employees affected by their negotiations to pay so-called “agency fees,” which have also been called “fair share fees.”
Wednesday’s ruling is a victory for conservative activists who have been waging a multipronged battle against organized labor — and a potentially crippling blow for public sector unions.
“This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor,” Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, said in a statement when the case reached the high court.
Government workers have been a relative stronghold in an otherwise shrinking labor movement. More than a third of the public sector workforce is unionized, compared with less than 7 percent in the private sector.
#SCOTUS holds requiring nonmembers of public-sector unions to pay fees to cover collective-bargaining activities violates the First Amendment, overruling longstanding precedent
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 27, 2018
SCOTUS Janus decision finally out. As expected, it says nonmember union fees violate free speech. Huge, huge blow for unions.
— Bryce Covert (@brycecovert) June 27, 2018
Breaking: #SCOTUS rules against unions in Janus v AFSCME, making the entire public sector right-to-work. A severe blow to the labor movement. The fallout will be felt for years — for unions and the Democratic Party.
— Dave Jamieson, LLC (@jamieson) June 27, 2018
No surprise w/ #JanusvAFSCME “Don’t count us out. While today the thirst for power trumped the aspirations and needs of communities and the people who serve them, workers are sticking with the union because unions are still the best vehicle working people have to get ahead
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) June 27, 2018
Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2018