Supreme Court Hands Organized Labor a Major Victory
The Supreme Court this week, in a 4-4 deadlock, handed organized labor a major victory in a case that threatened to cripple the ability of public-sector unions to collect fees from workers who choose not to join and do not want to pay for the union’s collective bargaining activities. The Court in Friedrichs vs. CA Teachers upheld the 1977 precedent where the Supreme Court voted in favor of “service fees” for non-union members.
When the case was argued in January, 2016, the Court’s conservative majority seemed ready to decide that it would be unconstitutional for unions representing government employees to charge fees to workers they represent but who are not members, even when the fees cover the costs of normal union bargaining over working conditions, not lobbying or outright political advocacy. In particular, Justice Scalia’s questions were consistently hostile to the unions. But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month left the Court to either find a way still to decide the case, or to end it with an even split. The result set no precedent, and left the issue for a potential future review. Under the Court’s rules, a rehearing request in the Friedrichs case would have to be filed within twenty-five days following Tuesday’s ruling.
This decision marked the second time that the Court, with its membership reduced by one, divided evenly in a case it reviewed.
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About Lubna M. Faruqi
Lubna M. Faruqi is co-founder and managing partner of Faruqi & Faruqi. Ms. Faruqi focuses her practice on complex civil litigation.