November 18, 2015
By Stephanie West
New York NY – The Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), an association of labor organizations representing 97 public sector unions in New York City, submitted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.
The issue presented in Friedrichs is whether non-union members – who are represented in the negotiation and administration of contracts – can be required to pay a “fair share” fee that excludes political activities and covers only the actual costs of representation. The people asking for the Court to overturn this longstanding precedent are obviously driven by a clear, politically-motivated intention to destroy public sector unions,” said New York City Municipal Labor Committee Chair Harry Nespoli. “New York City has a long history of requiring its unions to protect the interests of its members and nonmembers, alike. It’s important for all public sector employees to pay their fair share of the cost for the union to collectively bargain successfully in order to protect workers and build up the middle class.In the amicus brief, the MLC outlined the significant impact a Supreme Court ruling reversing its prior precedent would have the Court in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education had permitted States to authorize “fair share” arrangements so that workers would not be able to avoid contributing to the non-political aspects of union functions.
Eliminating the 40-year old precedent would have negative effects on union operations and cause complications to New York City as an employer. If the Court were to reverse course, it would not only upend a collective bargaining structure that has served the City for decades, it would likely weaken the strength of public sector unions and, consequently, deepen the already widening income inequality gap for hard working, middle class City workers who depend upon union services to manage their everyday lives. Currently, there are approximately 390,000 active workers and 120,000 retirees in New York City who work under 144 contracts that have fair share arrangements and rely upon such fees in funding collective bargaining and related non-political union activities. Nothing precludes a non-union member who pays his or her fair share fee from expressing his or her political viewpoint of engaging in political activities in regards to the union or other political arenas.