Supreme Court's tie vote upholds public employee fees for unions


This is very good news for unionized workers who benefit from collective bargaining.

The Supreme Court announced a tie vote today in what labor law experts had called a “life-or-death” case for public employee unions.

The split decision preserves a long-standing rule that requires about half of the nation’s teachers, transit workers and other public employees to pay a “fair share fee” to support their union.

The tie vote will come as a relief to union officials who feared the conservative court was on the brink of striking down the pro-union laws that authorized these fees.

But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia left the court without a majority to rule on the issue.

It’s also the strongest sign yet that the court’s conservatives cannot muster a majority to rule in their favor. At the oral argument in December, it looked as though the mandatory union dues would be struck down.

There are some union members who oppose fair share fees because they don’t like their benefits negotiated by their unions; not all objectors do so on free speech grounds. But the collective bargaining power comes from the collective. So, ultimately, the better way to address those disagreements is to campaign for better union representatives, not to dilute the power of the union.

In any case, this is a very important decision for working people, both those already in unions and those who need them. Unions are dwindling across the nation, and if there is a hope for more working people to unionize, it was contingent on this decision.


Stealing money from people who do not want to unionize is not the right thing to do. The right thing to do is leave them alone and remind the employer, whoever that may be, that they are not bound to apply the benefits, privileges, or compensation packages negotiated by the union to employees who are not union members.


Exactly! Since in many cases, the non-union workers receive better pay and richer benefits than their unionized coworkers, they should not be forced to pay.


Union shops don’t work that way for a reason.


I agree with this. Where I work, my department has a hard time hiring people because of the union contract holds down salaries. It would be nice to be able to ditch the contract and bargain individually.


Except for the fact that the vast majority of “working people” are not unionized nor do they want to be. My dad was a union worker for 30 years and absolutely hated it. Why? Because it restricted his choices and actually cost him far more than he got out of it. They were on strike at least 9 or 10 times while I was a kid. At an average of 6 weeks per strike, he essentially lost a year of pay and the stipend when he was on strike most certainly didn’t make up for the lost pay. On the other hand if my job was unionized I would not be able to negotiate what I make based on the benefit I give to the company. I also would have to give up part of my pay to support a union that depressed my wages. Thanks, but no thanks.

If you want to unionize fine, but the strangle hold where unions completely control a sector needs to end. If unions are so great then people will gladly join them, but if you are forced to join them in order to work in a job segment that is highly problematic. Unions had their place and time, but that time is past.


My dad was in a similar situation when he decided to go into business for himself. He was in a trade union which could justify higher wages because of the training received through apprenticeship programs, which resulted in higher productivity for union workers. In 1955 the American Federation of Labor merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations to form the ALF-CIO, and the line between trade unions and industrial unions was blurred. Unions hold back the best workers and seek to equalize the less skilled workers at a lower common level. It greatly hurts productivity and therefore the standard of living for the whole population.

Some people trace the decline in public schools to the point where the National Education Association stopped being a professional organization and became strictly a union like the American Federation of Teachers. Steve Jobs was one of the people who held that theory.


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