Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of union fees. The case involves an Orange County teacher who has sued to strike down the mandatory fees which pay for both collective bargaining and union activities.
The current law is governed by a 1977 SCOTUS ruling which stated that “public employees can be required to pay a “fair share” fee to reflect the benefits all workers receive from collective bargaining. But at the same time, employees who object cannot be forced to pay for a union’s political activities.” Teachers must pay $650/year for collective bargaining, but can opt out of the nearly $350/year that funds political lobbying and spending by the union — by requesting a refund.
This arrangement is being reexamined, with Justice Kennedy describing ” the mandatory fees as ‘coerced speech’ that violates the 1st Amendment.” The fundamental question, “according to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., is ‘whether or not individuals can be compelled to support political views that they disagree with.'”
A ruling is expected in June. If the mandatory fees are struck down, the unions will undoubtedly face financial difficulty, as it can no longer compel citizens to pay up. How this plays out in a Presidential election year will be even more interesting.