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.