Home California Supreme Court Rules Nonunion Workers Cannot be Forced to Pay Fees to Public Sector Unions

Supreme Court Rules Nonunion Workers Cannot be Forced to Pay Fees to Public Sector Unions

by ECT

In a 5-4 vote, The Supreme Court ruled against labor unions in a case that struck down a law that required non-union workers to pay fees that go towards collective bargaining.

The case was from an Illinois Law–a fair share fee. The ruling was 5-4 along partisan lines, with conservative Justice Samuel Alito writing for the majority which reverses more than 40-years of precedent.

Here is a copy of the 83-page decision: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1466_2b3j.pdf.

The case was brought forward by Petitioner Mark Janus is a state employee whose unit is represented by a public-sector union (Union), one of the respondents. He refused to join the Union because he opposes many of its positions, including those taken in collective bargaining.

According to the decision, the Supreme Court said forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns.

The court also ruled:

States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees. The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting
employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them. Accordingly, neither an agency fee nor any other fo
rm of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. Pp. 48–49


Shortly after the announcement, US Senator Kamala Harris issued the following statement:

“Our country’s success depends on the right of all workers – including teachers, firefighters, peace officers and nurses – to collectively negotiate fair wages, benefits and protections. The Court’s decision today undermines the basic American premise, held up by courts for more than four decades, that if a union represents all employees in negotiating and administering a collective bargaining agreement, then all employees ought to share the costs of that representation.

“We also cannot ignore that this decision is part of an ongoing trend of the Roberts Court that has repeatedly sided with employers over employees, corporations over consumers, and special interests over vulnerable Americans. Congress must act to bolster the American labor movement that built the middle class of this country. It is up to all of us to fight to protect the ability of working families to make a living wage and pursue the American dream now more than ever.”

California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra also issued a statement:

“We are disappointed in today’s ruling in Janus, a case about defending the interests of working people,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The U.S. Supreme Court is threatening the ability of workers to engage in collective bargaining and of states to manage our workforce. Even in the face of this challenge, workers in California can count on our office to defend collective bargaining rights and to stand up for fair pay, workplace safety, pensions, paid sick days, health-care services and other important protections. We will not back down in the fight to protect working families and to ensure that the voices of California’s workers are heard.”

Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case. In the brief, the Attorney General described the critical role public employees in California make to the economy and our communities. California’s police officers, teachers and first responders deliver critical services to California’s 40 million residents. The use of mandatory agency fees to support collective bargaining with public employers provides important benefits without improperly burdening individual interests.


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Dan Jun 27, 2018 - 11:27 am

Great decision! Just the fact that Kamala Harris and Becerra are crying out tells you that this is good. All the teacher’s unions do is spending the union money on political campaigns of their candidate of choice. This is how entitlements went out of control in CA.

Vince Jun 27, 2018 - 1:39 pm

Good … You don’t want to join or pay ? Then you don’t get to receive any of the benefits that were obtained during collective bargaining. Oh also, when you get in trouble, you are on your own — SCAB ! Oh I am sure there are idiots out there that think public employees are overpaid, have “Rolls Royce” benefit packages — like I work and I don’t get the same benefit packages. Womp, womp, womp !! You too could have chosen to work in the public sector vs the private sector, but you didn’t so ….. Womp, womp, womp.

G Jun 27, 2018 - 4:03 pm

Thank you for retiring Justice Kennedy. Now the greatest of all time, President Donald J Trump, can appoint a REAL constitutional conservative to the SCOTUS and there are several cases waiting on the courts docket that we can use to abolish Roe v Wade and return to normalcy by ridding our society of the perverted, disgusting, sick same sex marriage!!!!

Mike g Jun 27, 2018 - 7:25 pm

Great decision. FAIR! Thank you for upholding our constitutional rights!

Elinore Jun 27, 2018 - 7:45 pm

Ridiculous..this country was built by Unions. Leveled the playing field for those without voices. Created a middle class that brought a living wage for workers of all sectors. With that gone, good luck in the work place when you have a supervisor who treats you unfairly, harasses and berates you, simply because they don’t like what you look like or your gender or nationality. Who is going to protect you? Certainly not management…how about the fact that you work side by side another employee who makes more money than you? Who do you complain to? Certainly not management…you are at the will of your employer. No voice, no strength? Power is in numbers people☮️

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 5:57 am

Perhaps “Mike G”, “G” and “Dan” will come to the defense in dealing with an despotic supervisor or better yet, they will be the first ones crying foul when they are getting the shaft at their “right to work” workplace.

We can’t change their thinking — and ain’t even gonna try, but we can just dismiss them as being unhappy, dissatisfied “common clay of the land” — you know MORONS who buy into the old argument that Unions are “Evile”.

Dan Jun 28, 2018 - 6:24 am

To Vince, Elinore, etc: First of all, forcing anybody to buy anything is unconstitutional. As for government workers, the difference is they get paid by me and not by their boss. So government unions should negotiate with the ballot box instead of financing politicians’ campaigns. In other countries, government workers are not allowed to unionize at all.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 9:05 am

Why do we have to follow what other countries do ? What countries are you referring to … Russia, North Korea, China ? Sounds to me you are jealous of the fact that government employees have more secure positions, and retirements than you do. Well …. you could have solved that and became a government employee, and you could have denied your offer for membership in the bargaining unit (one is able to do so when they sign their paperwork upon being hired), along with denying your rights to any portion of what was achieved in the negotiation process or any protections offered by the “evil” union. I guess my opinion doesn’t count because I was one of those “greedy” public employees (I am a retired cop) that worked to protect all of you. Even though I might disagree with you, I was sworn to uphold the law and protect you regardless — In other words I had to set aside my personal feelings of disagreement with folks like yourself, and do MY job.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 9:15 am

Dan, You can change the way public employees are treated by voting for morons who want to limit pay, benefits and do some sort of ridiculous retirement reform — but you reap what you sew. Look at what happened to San Jose PD when the old mayor decided to change retirement and compensation, there was a huge sucking sound as officers vacated that place to other departments with better pay/benefits and other compensation. San Jose had to have a ballot initiative (which passed) to bring back the old retirement and pay (the ballot measure wasted more taxpayer money, when in fact it didn’t have to happen in the first place). I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a 60 year old cop or firefighter responding to my emergency, but with the way you think (I pay YOUR salary) that is what we are going to get as pay/benefit/retirement packages get eaten away. Bargaining Units, Unions, Associations whatever you want to call them negotiated for those benefits to benefit all of us with the ability to attract quality people to do a very difficult job, and the people they negotiate with are in fact people we have elected to public office.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 2:20 pm

Thank you Dan for allowing me to be “23 years a slave” to you since you alone paid my salary — were you on any of the City Councils or the City Manager that were in office/appointed during my time? Didn’t think so …. I never saw Mr. Dan’s (whoever you are) signature on any of my paychecks or Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) — another word for a labor contract in case you don’t know. Gimme a break !

Dan Jun 28, 2018 - 9:57 am

Hello Vince, I suggest everybody work for the government and get the government benefits. That by the way is communism. And we know how that works.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 12:45 pm

Okay Dan, whatever …. “Common Clay of the Land”.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 12:50 pm

In a way we all work for the government …. Income Taxes ?? So I guess people like you who pay the salaries of “government servants”, I too paid my own salary/benefits/retirement so does that mean I am the ultimate capitalist in that I was Self-Employed ? Think about that one … LOL !! Glad we keep this “friendly”.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 12:52 pm

I mean it wasn’t like just because I worked for a governmental agency didn’t make me exempt from paying taxes to pay “other servants salaries” — (puff up one’s chest here)

Balance our budget Jun 28, 2018 - 12:00 pm

Government unions are a serious problem to the financial stability of our country. There is a viscous cycle of paying the politician to get a wage increase. Then pay the union to pay the politician to get re-elected. Then there is each agency raising wages against each other because one pays more and the other feels entitled. Now we are trillions in unfunded debt with no end in sight because of unions. Private sector union OK because the public has a choice. Public unions are a serious problem as there is no choice. Great decision by our Supreme Court.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 3:25 pm

Wrong wrong wrong (to quote your BOY Trump during a debate), if we were face to face instead of on a blog, I be saying those words to you to drown you out …. I believe the case at SCOTUS involved an individual not wanting to be pressured into paying dues when he disagreed with the bargaining units method of what they used his dues for. Nothing about the financial stability of our country, not about unfunded debt, etc. The same could be said about Private Sector unions, they demand more money better benefits and working conditions, and that cost is passed onto the consumers …. So your argument is baseless. This is the beginning of going down the slippery slope to make American workers become slaves — 60-70 hour work weeks, no benefits and no overtime because the tightwad employers don’t want to pay. It won’t happen this year or next but 10 years from now what I just said will be the norm.

Dan Jun 28, 2018 - 4:41 pm

Hello Vince, nobody is saying unions are bad. What is bad is forcing everybody to pay them.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 6:28 pm

You don’t have to pay union dues when you start employment with a public agency. You can choose to donate that money to a charity of your choice, but not paying, and getting representation is BS too — you have to admit that. The ruling allows the employee who chooses not to pay for representation is still entitled to being represented in matters of discipline and gets to reap the benefits that were negotiated — this is total BS. When members that have common sense and understand that benefits and decent pay doesn’t come out of the goodness of the employer, but only with hard fought negotiations that cost money they have no problems paying. If they have a problem with what the union does with the money, they are more than welcome to become active members in the union and change that — but they don’t, they bitch about the things the union should have done. As far as I am concerned no union should endorse any lying SOB running for office, because one — they don’t win (in the case of police association backed candidates) and two — they are horrible once they get in office. Case in point, PATCO (Air Traffic Controllers in 1980), they endorsed Reagan after he promised them the moon, and nothing will ever happen to their workforce — they go on strike (yeah it was not allowed for them to do so) but what does not Ronnie boy do ? FIRED them, without negotiating anything — they all said but.. but… but we endorsed you Mr. Reagan.

Union man Jun 28, 2018 - 5:29 pm

I am saying public unions are as bad as robery from tax payers. Over paid and over benefited. Allowed to spike pensions stealing from the fund of fellow workers. There are plenty of laws in place that protect workers. Those comments above about abuse are BS. Especially the 60 hr week when sleeping a third of that time. Gimme a break, pension funds will crash eventually. Those last workers will get screwed when the pension coffers dry up.

Vince Jun 28, 2018 - 6:16 pm

@Union Man, are you familiar with CAL Pers. It will take a lot for Cal PERS to crash …. Such as if every employee who works for the state and municipalities that contract with PERS quit then it would, but that isn’t going to happen.

Retirement Reform which was signed into law prevents “pension spiking”, and limits the amount of time retired members can work for a PERS municipality. It used to be they were allowed to work per diem (no benefits, just pay) up to 960 hours each fiscal year as long as they wanted — Now they cannot do that, they can only work for a year then go bye-bye after waiting 6 months after their retirement date. Also public safety (newly hired cops) is eligible for retirement when they are 57 years old, it used to be eligible at age 50. I know some cops at some agencies are working 60 hour weeks (12 hours/5 days a week) so YOU give me a break or them, this is all because of short staffing — they cannot fill police officer positions fast enough. It’s people like you that are uninformed, thinking that ANYONE can put on a badge and gun and be a “lawman”. This ruling by the SCOTUS is going to bad in the long run for workers who rely on union negotiated contracts. It is being hailed by corporate America as a victory, because what it does is set the precedence for weakening labor unions more than they are already weakened now. It costs money for bargaining units, associations and unions (whatever you want to call them) to negotiate, so now if you have people who balk at paying their dues, that is going to make things bad. Union Man you need to do a little more research into the subject, IF in FACT YOU are a TRUE Union Man.

PattyOfurniture Jun 29, 2018 - 4:03 pm

I’ve seen and woked in a few different unions. Some folks and unions do put their money where their mouth is and bring a quality product. Some unions give folks the stereotype everyone thinks of in the above arguements. Lots of protections for workers, not saying that’s good or bad but just what it is. Much like the local crime, it’s too bad the few ruin it for the folks or groups that mean well. Politically I do see some similarities, as mentioned above, to the housing bubbles we have that overinflate the markets. Much like an appraiser inches up prices to get the agent a better comission who in return rewards the appraiser with more work; the unions, through organizing dues and recommended voting lists elect people who are friendly to them and reward by bringing more work and in turn monies and more working dues to be paid to politicians through PAC’s. This could be considered problematic. Of course the union’s lobbying efforts are chump change compared to big corporate money (what one might think of as the Republican candidate). Just as much as I don’t want the Koch brothers influencing our elections I surely don’t want someone like Soros influencing elections as well. Unions definitely have the strength of numbers in voting. It is a complex situation and the courts ruled as it is. All we can do is move on, learn from this and vote appropriately when the time comes.

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