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Requirement to pay union dues expected to be struck down by Supreme Court

By: Teri Bernstein



 from Wochit Politics


This week, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought by public employee Mark Janus of Illinois. He objects to paying union dues, which are required under the "closed shop" policy allowed under Illinois state law. "Closed shop" means that if an employee benefits from a union contract, then he or she is required to pay union dues, even if they would rather not. "The decision, due by next June, could prove a costly setback for public-sector unions in 22 states, including California, where such fees are authorized by law. Labor experts have predicted a significant percentage of employees would stop supporting their union if given a choice. The other 28 states have 'right to work' laws that forbid requiring workers to join or support a union." (Los Angeles Times)


Without the ability to collect dues from all beneficiaries, the clout of unions may be affected in terms of their ability to bargain for salary and benefits for employees. According to the Economic Policy Institute, this would negatively affect the salary and benefits for other workers over time.


Since the appointment of Neil M. Gorsuch this year to the Supreme Court, there are now five judges who would likely vote to strike down closed shop provisions. 


Source: "Supreme Court poised to deal a sharp blow to unions for teachers and public employees," by David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2017.



  • Think long term--what are the foreseen and possibly unforeseen consequences of this ruling?
  • Describe and then list the pros and cons of a "closed shop" union situation. How might the phrase "right to work" be used in a misleading way with respect to this issue?  
  • What do you think is fair? How should this case be decided in your opinion?