Supreme Court To Decide Whether To Destroy Unions

Thom plus logo Republicans just got one step closer to turning our nation into a right-to-work-for-LESS Libertarian paradise.

Last week, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a legal case called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which could mean big problems for public unions.

The issue at hand in that case is whether unions should be permitted to charge non-members “fair share service fees” to cover the cost of representing them in the workplace, or whether those fees constitute a violation of a worker's free speech rights.

Those fair-share fees help the unions pay for the legal and administrative costs of bargaining for all workers in a unionized shop, regardless of whether or not they are members of the union.

If the unions are prevented from charging those fees, they would still be legally obligated to bargain on behalf of all workers, but nonunion employees would get the benefits of union membership for free.

In the Friedrichs case, the plaintiffs argue that making non-union workers pay agency fees is the same as making them pay for a union's political activities – even though labor groups are prohibited from using these funds for politics.

The legal theory is so flawed that even Justice Antonin Scalia raised concerns with a similar theory during the Court's last term. But, that doesn't mean that he won't side with his fellow conservatives on the Bench in this case, just to help his Republican buddies destroy public unions.

Without these agency fees, many public unions may not have the funds to survive, and right-to-work-for-LESS could become the de facto law of the land.

We must do everything we can to protect our right to bargain collectively before Republicans and their activist judges destroy our unions.


Duncan MacLaren's picture
Duncan MacLaren 7 years 37 weeks ago

I spent my entire working career in and around unions. Did we always agree with each other ? Of course not. Could union representatives be unreasonable at times ? Certainly. (For that matter, we could be just as unreasonable at times.) But there's one unbreakable rule: "If you're going to enjoy the benefits and the protections of a union, you gotta PAY. You don't get to ride for free. Period."

geo.mccalip's picture
geo.mccalip 7 years 37 weeks ago

A local small business should join the Chamber of Commerce and refuse to pay dues on the grounds of freedom of speech. Same principle.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 37 weeks ago

I don't understand their reasoning. Our polititicians don't bother to represent us in what we want because we can't afford the "dues" required for them to take notice. And yet they think it's perfectly OK to demand that unions offer representation to any low life that doesn't want to pay. Do as I say. Not as I do. In this case, Regan was right when he said "government is the problem."

cccccttttt 7 years 37 weeks ago

While support the protection of private sector worker rights with the German model,

(1/2 of board of directors must be workers)

public sector unions have no place in government. Here is someone who says it better than I:

From Wiki:

" Roosevelt, "an ardent supporter of collective bargaining in the private sector, was opposed to it in the public sector".

In 1937 he explained his view:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters. Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.[12]


DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 37 weeks ago

I say take a lesson from the Republican cheat rule book. I see two simple solutions. #1) Change the name of the fee. Republicans have been getting around the law for decades by changing one or two letters, words, dates, and names of the laws to suit their needs. Public unions can use the same trick. #2) Change the rules of union membership. Require that anyone holding a position in the field carry a union card. Therefore, non-member fees no longer apply. Fine anyone who works without being a member and in either case, unions collect their fees.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX 7 years 37 weeks ago

I think it's time to go on a counterattack and challenge the idea that CORPORATIONS and shareholders should get free limited liability protections from government. Let them buy these protections from the private market.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 37 weeks ago

It doesn't require a union to facilitate work stoppage, it simply takes a majority of pissed off employees willing to fight the workplace injustice.

The billionaires sure have their own union representation, it's called a republican controlled congress. Maybe non union workers should stop paying federal income tax.....isn't that like unwillingly paying union dues too?

jkh6148's picture
jkh6148 7 years 37 weeks ago

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" George Santayana

What with more and more states going right-to-work-for-less resulting in the decline of the middle class, the country needs a good documentary series on labor history in the U.S..

Schools are not teaching labor history and students are not learning the names MARY HARRIS "MOTHER" JONES, GEORGE MEANY, and the RUETHER BROTHERS. They are not learning events like the LUDLOW MASSACRE, the TRIANGLE SHIRTWAIST FIRE, and the 1937 FLINT SIT DOWN STRIKE.

I believe that many unions are not teaching labor history to their own memberships. I am a union member, and I did not know of the LUDLOW MASSACRE until I retired and moved 40 miles south of Ludlow Colorado. Maybe if more unions taught labor history to their memberships - they would happily pay their union dues.

RFord's picture
RFord 7 years 37 weeks ago

I sure hope the court rules in favor of the union on this case. People who work for union negotiated wages and benefits should not complain about paying dues. They would only be making half of what they are making if they hadn't had the union negotiating on their behalf. Union workers are not just pro-union. They are pro-worker and pro-workers rights. Sometimes I think that if the republican party has their way unions will go extinct. What would happen then? The economy would tank, and the government would go bankrupt because wages would be much lower and lower wages means less spending and less taxes owed. The next thing that would happen is workers would rise up and form unions and elect people to office that represent them.

Some people just don't want anything deducted from their check, not even Medicare or taxes or stuff that benefits them like retirement or medical insurance. That's just the way some people are, even some union members are like that.

I've heard a lot of lies and miss-conceptions about unions over the years. All I can say is I've been a member of Plumbers Local 17, Memphis, for 43 years and I've got no complaints.

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 7 years 37 weeks ago

The Democrats who have always been credited with supporting collective bargaining have actually done little to combat various political actions that have severely limited the union's activities over the years. For Instance, the Taft Hartley Act was passed in 1948 by the Right and the Democrats, who are always glad to see union members flocking to the polls on election day, have done virtually nothing in 69 years to weaken or eliminate this legislation ! It's a given that organized labor will eventually receive a final death blow if the T.P.P. is signed in to law. However the final blow won't come from politicians in Washington, instead it will come in the form of a claimed violation of the terms of the T.P.P. lodged by one or more of those foreign T.P.P. signatories who have long maintained sweatshop pay and working standards in their own country that exclusively benefit wealthy owners and investors, local and foreign !

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 7 years 37 weeks ago

@ Willie W; Reagan was also a Democrat and Screen Actors Guild Union President in his early years. Somebody obviously made him an offer that he couldn't refuse, not an uncommon practice in Washington !

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 37 weeks ago

ulTRAX, limited liability isn't a service provided by the government, it's a condition of incorporation. In the end, it's the investors that pay for it, because they don't get a return on their investment if the corporation fails. But that's how investment works--there's always a risk of not making money. It's up to them to weigh the risks and make an informed decision on whether any particular investment is a good idea.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 37 weeks ago

cccccttttt -- Our current govt is run by billionaires. They want to cut benefits of public service employees. They want to do this to enable the billionaires to get bigger tax cuts. What action would you suggest public service employees take?

dltownsley -- Every member of the democratic party in the senate voted for card check in 2009. Every republican voted against it. What action are you suggesting they take?

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 37 weeks ago

That should have been RLTOWNSLEY not dltownsley. Sorry.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 37 weeks ago

Chuckles, Why do you continue to make stuff up. This is from the NY Times July 16, 2009.

The abandonment of card check was another example of the power of moderate Democrats to constrain their party’s more liberal legislative efforts. Though the Democrats have a 60-40 vote advantage in the Senate, and President Obama supports the measure, several moderate Democrats opposed the card-check provision as undemocratic.

Read the whole article for yourself.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 37 weeks ago

Hell geo.mccalip, a local BIG business should do that

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 37 weeks ago

Ou812, chuckles said every Republican voted against it, which is accurate. That's the ever present Republican filibuster obstruction to cloture.
Since the Clinton era the RNC had been cutting off campaign funds to Republicans legislators who don't vote with party directives. Democrats need EVERY ONE of their senators to vote with the party leadership and Democrats don't exert that kind of control on their members and allow them to vote their conscience.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 37 weeks ago

The conflation of collective bargaining of public employees' unions with lobbying is absurdly disingenuous and laughable on its face. It's not much different from the last silly assed, infantile little trick of semantics the Retardicans tried with the Obama care case before. Hopefully, the court will show similar sense and integrity this time as then.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 37 weeks ago

CT, Roosevelt was a false god - as are all mortals. He was, in any case, not ALWAYS ahead of his time. His superstitions mustn't be adhered to either.
Many of his concerns were resolved by "no strike" clauses for such services as fire and police departments.
In some Western European states the military is unionized. Seems to work out okay.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 37 weeks ago

If the court rules against unions we're all going back to living in a Dickens, Zola or Victor Hugo novel. We're going back to Upton Sinclair's jungle.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 36 weeks ago

Saulys, I suggest you re-read chuckles comment. He said every Democrat voted for check-off. Also, read the article. At that time, the Dems had 60 Senators in the Senate. a filabuster proof Senate. The Democrats were forced by their own party to remove check-off from the bill in order to allow the Democrats to vote for it.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 36 weeks ago

Ou812, that's a big problem, Democrats are now taking money from the same people as Republicans. Legalized corruption that is legal only because corrupt politicians make the laws.
It's like Obama care. Because Republicans voted, reliably, as expected, in lockstep to obstruct every Democratic and independent vote was needed to pass. Joe Liebermann of Connecticut, who always was in the pocket of the insurance industry, wouldn't vote for it unless the public option was removed. The rest is history.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 36 weeks ago

Hey Ou812, here's your girl,  What a truly DISGUSTING fraud! Wolf Blitzer is complicit in this, it seems. Where's the moderation?

If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance baffle 'em with bullshit, eh? Just keep your mouth moving and you won't have tob face reality. Somebody check her "facts".

Is this what you admire?


Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 36 weeks ago

Saulys, I choose that picture because I liked the provocation it projected. I didn't even know who it was until someone on this site pointed it out. I don't particularly care for politicians. They'll tell you want you want to hear to get elected. I've been much more successful by doing things myself. Much happier too.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 35 weeks ago

Ou812 -- I often repeat what I hear on the radio without verification. Thanks for pointing out that I need to change my message to say we need a few extra dems in the senate. I wonder what that NY Times article was about. There was not even a cloture vote on employee free choice act with card check removed. Can you find one in the senate voting record?

I would certainly like to know who those dems were that were bought off by Walmart etc. Those dems think it is undemocratic to experience the peer pressure of fellow workers, but think it is fine if Walmart can fire them if they do not attend an anti-union meeting.

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