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The Supreme Court gives the unions a sharp blow



A coordinated effort by some of the right-wing largest contributors has fueled the case.]

Limiting the power of public unions has long been a goal of conservative groups. They appeared to succeed in the Supreme Court in 2016, when a majority of the judges seemed ready to decide that the charges were unconstitutional.

But Judge Antonin Scalia died shortly after the earlier case had been discussed, and ended in a 4-to-4 deadlock. The new case, filed in 2015, was waiting in the wings and soon reached the Supreme Court. Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President of the Supreme Court of President Trump, voted by a majority.

The court overturned its 1977 decision in Abood against the Detroit Board of Education, which had differentiated between two types of compulsory payments. Forcing nonmembers to pay for a union's political activities violated the First Amendment, the court said. But it is constitutional, the court says, to oblige non-members to pay for union bargaining to prevent illegal trafficking and ensure "labor peace".

This distinction is untenable and unworkable, so the majority has written down an Illinois law requiring government employees who choose not to join a union, "to pay their share of the costs of the collective bargaining process, to manage contracts and affairs which affect wages, working hours and other working conditions. " More than 20 states have similar laws.

The case, Janus vs. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, No. 16-1466, was brought to Mark Janus, a child support specialist who works for the state government in Illinois. He sued the union and said he disagreed with his positions and should not be forced to pay fees to support his work.

The ruling will have a direct impact on unionized employees of private companies because the First Amendment restricts government action rather than private behavior. But trade unions today represent only 6.5 percent of those in the private sector, in the early 1980s they were still in the top ten, and most of the strength of the labor movement today is in the public sector.


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