High court rules against unions in dues case
April 18, 2019
WASHINGTON – By a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court declared June 27 that one of its rulings from 1977 was “wrongly decided” and overruled it, in a case on whether public-sector unions could continue to make nonmembers pay fair-share fees not related to the unions’ lobbying and political efforts.
As a result, said the court majority, “neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”
The justices split along ideological lines, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch in the majority and Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the minority.
“It is disappointing that today’s Supreme Court ruling renders the long-held view of so many bishops constitutionally out-of-bounds, and threatens to ‘limit the freedom or negotiating capacity of labor unions,’” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a June 27 statement, quoting in part Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”).
“By reading the First Amendment to invalidate agency-fee provisions in public-sector collective bargaining agreements, the court has determined – nationwide, and almost irrevocably – that all government workplaces shall be ‘right-to-work,’” Bishop Dewane noted.
Quoting “Caritas in Veritate” again, he added: “Now that such agency-fee agreements are outlawed, state and federal legislators should explore alternative means ‘for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights.’”