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Supreme Court Hears Big Union Case

Things aren’t looking so good for big unions in the United States. School choice has teachers’ unions running scared and right to work is, well, working. As unions lose their strongholds around the country, they are looking for more ways to shore up their power. An upcoming case at the Supreme Court, though, might chip away at said power even more. 

Should a public employee in this country be forced to pay dues to a union? That’s the question in the hands of the Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy asked why “a union can take money from any employee who objects to the union’s position on fundamental political grounds.” These union fees, known as “fair share dues,” are a sacred cow of union life. The idea is that every worker must pay a free to the union for them to negotiate and administer a contract.

Otherwise, everyone might opt out of the union, causing those left to pay to carry an unfair burden. Liberal justice Elena Kagan said “It would radically restructure the way workplaces are run. ... There must be thousands and thousands of contracts across the United States with fair-share provisions.”

Why is restructuring a bad thing? Unions are hemorrhaging members because they are losing relevance. Rather than rethinking this relevance, unions want people forced to pay, holding on to their glory days by any means possible. 

This all began with home healthcare workers in Illinois. In 2003, Governor Rod Blagojevich made it possible for these workers (who work in private homes) to be considered state workers and, as such, they could join a union. Many chose to join a union, but many chose not to. Unfortunately, those who chose not to still have to pay.

Thus, Harris v. Quinn was born, claiming that their right to free association was violated.  One of the women pursuing this case is Pam Harris, a mom who cares for her disabled son, who said simply "I object to my home being a union workplace."

In America, people are free to associate as they choose. At least, on paper. We will be watching this case closely to see if the Supreme Court will stand up for the rights of the American people over the power of unions and big government.

Here’s hoping that the unions will be forced into 2014, where workers value freedom over bloated union dues and bullying tactics, even if they’re kicking and screaming the whole way. Come on, SCOTUS, don’t let us down (again). 

stonestone's picture
stone stone

It seems to utterly predictable that literally every other article I see on this site is all about unions. Perhaps some of you should really think for about 5 seconds where you and everyone else would be had it not been for unions: 100 years ago workers had few rights. Work conditions in many places was abysmal. There was little safety in some factories. Again- read your history. I've repeatedly heard various statements trying to suggest that unions aren't needed anymore. This couldn't be further from the truth, with millions upon millions of Americans now working for almost poverty wages, and in some cases actually having to take welfare checks in ADDITION to their jobs simply because their jobs pay so little even though the companies that employe them make untold billions of dollars. So long as these conditions exist so too will unions and/or organized labor to help ensure that workers everywhere get their fair end of the deal.

Morlocke's picture

If unions are so great, why do they need to use coercion to bolster their membership? Freedom of association means freedom NOT to associate as well, otherwise it is meaningless. If unions offer value, then workers will choose to join them and pay their dues.

That fact is that since worker protections were enshrined in law decades ago, unions are now just another special-interest group that looks out for their own members (like you) at the expense of others. Public unions' collusive relationship with Democrats (Dems pass laws mandating membership and unions contribute those fees to their election funds) has led to massive debt for cities and States where they have the most influence - all paid for by taxpayers, of course.