Supreme Court Rejects Union-Fees Challenge

The U.S. Supreme Court just rejected a legal attack on a vital source of funds for organized labor, splitting 4-4 in a challenge that had appeared to be on the path to victory until Justice Antonin Scalia’s February death, according to Reuters.

The outcome in the case, titled Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, affirmed a lower-court ruling that allowed California to force non-union workers to pay fees to public-employee unions.

The decision left intact a 1977 legal precedent that allowed such fees, which add up to millions of dollars a year for unions.

The court’s action, the Reuters piece notes, came after a lawsuit brought by a group of non-union public school teachers from California who objected to paying fees to the California Teachers Association union. (A California law requires non-union workers to pay fees to public-sector unions representing workers such as police, firefighters and teachers to fund collective bargaining efforts.)

The decision means the status quo remains, with the unions able to collect fees from non-union workers.

“The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a political ploy to silence public employees like teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, higher education faculty and other educators to work together to shape their profession,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association.

About 5 million public-sector employees are subject to union contracts that include mandatory fee provisions, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which backed the non-union teachers.