Supremes to Decide Union Member Rights

If there’s one case I’m going to be following in the U.S. Supreme Court’s new docket, it’s this one:

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether public employee unions must get special permission before spending some workers’ dues on political causes.

Justices accepted an appeal from the state of Washington that involves fees paid to the Washington Education Association by teachers who decline to join the union.

Those workers still can be charged dues by the union to help pay for labor negotiations that affect them. But they can’t be forced to pay for the union’s political activism, under a string of Supreme Court rulings that reach back nearly 30 years.

At issue is whether the union needs teachers to say “yes” before the fees can be used for political causes or whether teachers must specifically object to having a portion of their fees spent for that purpose.

The court will hear arguments in the case, as well as a related lawsuit by five teachers to recover their fees, early next year.

One of the organizations that signed on to an amicus brief in support of this case was the Independence Institute.

Here’s hoping that the nine justices on the nation’s highest court provide a victory for individual rights of free political speech.


  1. Fred Duke says

    The Colorado situation is completely different than in Washington state. Colorado has no public employee union election law. All Colorado teachers are free to join or not to join a union.

    Washington state has a union security law and dues equilivency requirements for non-members.

  2. says

    Thanks for the comment, Fred. Yes, you are correct. I would say largely different, though not completely different.

    Nevertheless, the case before the U.S. Supreme Court will have implications here in Colorado and elsewhere. You need look no further than the Colorado Appeals Court decision rendered today in favor of the teachers’ unions’ temporary injunction against the Secretary of State’s new rule.

    The union attorney’s arguments were informed by the precedent of the current WEA case from the Washington Supreme Court, and the case was also highlighted in the Appeals Court decision.

    If the U.S. Supreme Court turns it around, it would clearly empower states to make constitutionally-sound policies that govern political dues collection practices of unions and other membership organizations.

    First Amendment rights and all.


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