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Supreme Court Likely to Take New Case Against Public-Sector Unions

August 26, 2017

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

Washington—When the Supreme Court reopens in October, a new effort to end the union shop for public-sector workers is likely to be on its docket. If four justices agree that it is worth reviewing, the Court will hear the appeal of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a second lawsuit claiming that public-sector workers do not have the right to collect agency fees from nonmembers. Backed by leading anti-union forces, Mark Janus, a child protective services employee in Illinois, is trying to overturn the standard the Court set in 1977: That public-sector unions may charge nonmembers for the cost of representing them, but can’t require them to pay for the union’s explicitly political activity. Janus is arguing that all public-sector bargaining is political, because it involves public funds. The Court rejected a similar claim last year, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, when a 4-4 deadlock affirmed the lower-court decision upholding California’s agency-fee law. But now, the numbers are different: The vacant seat has been filled by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, who has a long record of anti-union opinions. Read more

August 26, 2017

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