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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).