Unions Blast 'Blatantly Political' Suit Headed to SCOTUS
Supreme Court will look at whether all public employees have to pay 'fair share' fees
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2017 5:44 PM CDT
Labor unions will watch this case carefully—and nervously.   (Getty Images/Tetra Images)

(Newser) – Teachers and other public employees are now eyeing the Supreme Court after it announced Thursday it will take on a case next summer that may have big repercussions for unions. The Los Angeles Times reports the high court will look at overruling the requirement that all public employees, not just union members, pay fees that support collective bargaining. The case, being brought on behalf of Illinois child support specialist Mark Janus, could affect unions in 22 states where those "fair share" fees are now mandated for all public employees; labor experts think many would stop paying if they weren't forced to. With conservative Neil Gorsuch now on the gavel, it's expected the ruling won't favor the unions. The country's four largest public-sector unions are blasting the complaint as "a blatantly political and well-funded plot ... to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people."

The case stretches back to 2015, when Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner filed a complaint saying the mandated fees were unconstitutional, per the Chicago Tribune. Three state employees, including Janus, joined the suit, which was eventually thrown out by a federal judge and an appeals court. The ruling used as precedence was the 1977 Supreme Court case of Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, in which it was decided all public employees, even those not in unions, must pay a portion of union dues that go toward collective bargaining efforts, as those efforts benefit all employees. Early last year, Janus penned an op-ed for the Tribune explaining why he didn't feel he should be required to pay the fees, writing: "I am not anti-union. Unions have their place. … But unions aren't a fit for everyone. And I shouldn't be forced to pay money to a union if I don't think it does a good job representing my interests."

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