Gorsuch silent as court sharply divided on union fees

Workers rally in Foley Square ahead of Supreme Court vote on labor union funding

She was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who anxious that overruling Abood would "drain" the public sector union's resources and even trigger members to stop paying for something others are getting for free.

This time around, with President Trump's appointment of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, the court appears more likely to side with Mark Janus, a child-support specialist for the state of IL, who asserts that mandatory union fees infringe upon his freedom of speech and association.

Audrie Francis, a fourth-year environmental science student and member of Student Labor Advocacy, said they think undergraduate students should pay attention to campus protests on labor issues.

"I feel ticked off about the impact Janus (court case) could have on our union". However, Justice Antonin Scalia's death just weeks before the case was to be decided left the remaining justices split 4-4.

Hebert said the fees have been constitutional since a Supreme Court ruling in 1977 in a case brought by a Detroit teacher. Unions strongly opposed Gorsuch's nomination by President Donald Trump. He and the conservative interests that back him contend that everything unions representing public employees do is political, including contract negotiations.

Unions need to be able to enforce fees on non-members because these employees could otherwise reap the benefits of collective bargaining, such as higher payer, job protection, and good working conditions.

"I'm forced to associate with a union that doesn't agree with what I agree with in some cases", Janus told Watchdog last September.

Losing at the Supreme Court-and losing automatic dues payments-might actually strengthen the labor movement by forcing unions to change how they operate, he says. That ruling reaffirmed that no public employee can be forced to join a union and no non-union member can be forced to pay for a union's political activities.

The unions say people who don't want to be involved in the political spending can opt out by writing an annual letter, but Janus argues that isn't enough.

Unions are required to provide those services to all employees in union shops, but Alt said non-members don't have a choice in how the unions use that money.

The Supreme Court is likely to hand down a decision in June.

"The question is whether money taken from people against their will can be used to lobby the government in any form", Giardin said.

The SEIU members fear that if the court rules in favor of Janus, it will deplete collective bargaining power for unions.

Hundreds of union supporters including faith leaders, elected officials and immigrant rights groups attended the rally at the State Capitol.

Today, 22 states have laws on the books that allow broad fair share fees for public employees.

The American Civil Liberties Union is on the unions' side against an individual's free speech claims.

Martilynne Middleton, a business agent for Services Employees International Union, said employees can voluntarily donate a portion of their salaries for political purposes to the union's bipartisan Committee on Political Education.

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