Backed by the Trump administration, those advocates say public-sector unions are engaging in political speech when they negotiate with the government.
The Janus v American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees case will be argued before the United States Supreme Court today and many are predicting that public employee unions will be crippled if the court decides against the union-but only if the union doesn't do its job of representing workers the way they want to be represented.
Over the weekend, thousands of public employees rallied in state capitols across the country including Columbus ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing in Washington Monday.
If the court rules for the plaintiffs in Janus, state and local government employees in the 22 states that are not right-to-work jurisdictions will no longer be forced to subsidize unions as a condition of their employment. The justices came close in the 2016 California case, shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, deadlocking 4-4. Gorsuch joined the court in April and has yet to weigh in on union fees. "What's at issue here is whether any of the government unions can force employees to continue to pay dues if they don't want to". They say that if non-members don't have any obligation to pay fair share fees for the collective bargaining obligations, they would become free riders, benefiting from the representation without sharing the costs. "We're going to give them a seminar on how to get unemployment benefits". Plus, they add, employees can choose if they'd like to help fun a union's political activities.
Because, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested, the people behind Janus v. AFSCME "are basically arguing, do away with unions".
Mike Fehr, UCLA chapter president of UPTE, said he thinks the case is meant to defund unions.
Mark Janus, an IL government employee, is suing the union that represents him - but of which he is not a member - on the grounds that deductions from his paycheck go to fund activities for views he may not share.
For Janus to win, the court would probably have to overrule a 1977 decision that upheld such fees.
Janus and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican who has had a contentious relationship with the state's unions since taking officer in 2015, were both in the courtroom Monday. The union said it was the latest in a series of attacks on unions. American Federation of State, County and Municipality Employees, is the third time in recent years that the high court has sought to reexamine union fees charged to nonmembers who work on union contracts. Full union dues include money spent on political advocacy.
Janus says he has a constitutional right not to contribute anything to a union with which he disagrees.
Hundreds of union supporters including faith leaders, elected officials and immigrant rights groups attended the rally at the State Capitol.
She and others noted that the court in the past has said public employees did not have even limited free speech rights to criticize their agencies or their supervisors.