By Alyssa Levy
On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 41-year-old standard set in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Under Abood, when a union became the exclusive bargaining representative for a group of public employees, those public employees who chose not to belong to the union could still be required to pay their “fair share” of union fees to cover the cost of collective bargaining. Now, workers may choose not to be members of the union and not pay anything to support the union. The case is Janus v. AFSCME.
In a 5-4 vote, the Court found the requirement to pay “agency” fees violates public workers’ First Amendment free speech rights by forcing them to fund union speech (i.e. collective bargaining). Even though agency fees may go towards collective bargaining on behalf of both union and nonunion members, workers can no longer be forced to pay for it.
So what does this mean for public-sector unions? Less financial stability. Public employees now will have to specifically consent to make payments to their unions, which is expected to reduce the funds available to public unions.