Wyatt Employment Law Report

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Split Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court Results in Union Win

By Michelle High

iStock_000008223650_FullFor decades, “fair share” fees have been justified as a mechanism to help unions cover the costs associated with collective bargaining.  In the 1977 case of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that compulsory union dues are unconstitutional, but unions could collect fees necessary to cover costs such as those associated with collective bargaining.  Consistent with this notion, “agency shop” laws currently exist in more than twenty states.  These laws require members of a unionized profession to have to pay “fair share” or “agency” fees even if they are not members of the union.  California is one such state.

In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other California teachers objected to being forced to support the California Teachers Association and challenged the imposition of the associated fees.  They have argued that requiring non-union members to pay fair share fees is Continue reading

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United States Supreme Court Hears First Amendment Challenge to “Fair Share” Fees

By Amanda Warford Edge

microphoneFor nearly forty years, the Supreme Court’s decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), has reigned. Under Abood, unions are permitted to collect agency fees from public employees who are not union members, as long as the fees go toward the costs of collective bargaining and not politics. But a group of California public school teachers has now challenged this practice. These teachers contend that such “fair share” fees violate their First Amendment rights.

According to the claimants, every year, they are required to financially support a group who advocates for viewpoints that they oppose and do not wish to subsidize. They argue that spending by public-sector unions always includes politicized speech, and since they are required to pay “fair share” fees, their First Amendment rights are violated. Counsel for the claimants has been quoted as stating that Continue reading