The issue is straightforward: Does public-sector unionism violate the First Amendment rights of workers who do not want to join a union?
The case, Janus v. AFSCME, pits Mark Janus, an IL state child support specialist, who argues that forcing him to pay union dues for collective bargaining violates his First Amendment rights, against the union that represents him. Those union members who opt to pay only for agency shop representation, which is a small number, get a slight discount on their fees, Shaw said.
He poo-pooed the harm to unions from a ruling in Janus's favor-they would just need to become more efficient and effective to attract members, he said-and repeatedly expressed concern that even bargaining over wages affects state budgets and thus has public-policy salience. More than half the states already have right-to-work laws banning mandatory fees, but most members of public-employee unions are concentrated in states that don't, including California, New York, and IL. Rebecca Friedrichs eventually lost that case with the court split after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The plaintiff is a State of IL employee and says he shouldn't pay dues to a union he doesn't agree with, writes WGN.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in combating Illinois's argument that it needs an "independent" partner in contract negotiations, said it would "blink reality" to deny that unions work with governments to push a for bigger workforce and higher taxes.
Taxpayer advocates would likely oppose bills that would shield contact information or give union members release time from work, said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
In 2014, the Supreme Court said that "except in perhaps the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support".
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"We're hopeful that the Supreme Court will restore workers' right to choose and state clearly that when you take a government job, you don't have to check your First Amendment rights at the door", he said in a statement.
The union threats are disgraceful, and they also ring hollow.
Chanting things like "when we fight, we win" and "together we rise" union members marched down Grant Street, taking care to walk by the federal building, the county and federal courthouses, and the headquarters of UPMC, which has sparred with the SEIU in the past over organizing health care workers.
They say the fees Janus is obligated to pay are for union operations and are not used for union lobbying activities or backing political candidates.
In California, public sector unions are without question the dominant political force.
"Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, all would have their statutes declared unconstitutional at once", said Justice Elena Kagan, another member of the liberal wing of the court.
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It's an argument supported by some Republican state lawmakers who have filed a brief supporting the unions and arguing the decision should be left to the states.
"No matter what happens with this Janus decision ... we have power right here in San Francisco to keep our unions strong".
IL is among 24 states that allow unions to charge "agency fees" even when workers don't want a union membership.
Pro-union speakers said they are not confident of a victory at the Supreme Court, which is ruled by a conservative majority of five justices. The court should issue its opinion in this important case by the end of June.
After saying that they had done so in three cases, Justice Stephen Breyer asked a question to turn the discussion back to the specifics of the Janus case.
"These employees are absolutely the reason we can study here at the top public university", they said. "They can go straight to hell because we're fighting back".
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