Union labor law revisions

Supreme Court Revises Labor Laws

In a recent decision that will have implications nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court revised how labor unions will operate going forward. The decision was a lightning rod for all sides of the conversation, and led to a decades-old opinion being overturned by the Supreme Court. The case, Janus v. AFSCME, challenged a public-sector union’s ability to collect dues from unwilling employees.

This case goes back to the 1970s when the Supreme Court decided a case known as Abood. There, some local government employees had a portions of their paycheck withheld as dues to the union which represented them. Those employees argued that because unions largely engage in political speech, they could not be required to support that speech with their money.

At the time the Supreme Court sided with the public sector unions. The Court held that because the employees benefited from the work that unions did, the members had to pay the dues. The Court reasoned it was fair for unions to collect from everybody.

Stare Decisis  

Typically, there is a legal doctrine known as stare decisis which requires a court to leave a prior decision unchanged, unless there is a new, compelling reason to change it. In the climate we now live, that doctrine is not as it once was. Since the turn of the 20th century, we have seen an increase in old opinions overturned for many reasons.

New Rules, New Environment

With each new case comes the possibility for entirely new rules being promulgated, and that happened in Janus. The Court in Janus decided that it violated public-sector employees’ First Amendment rights to be forced to pay for speech with which they did not agree. The ruling overturns many years of opposing precedent.  

The new rules will require public-sector unions to change how they operate and collect dues, and even how they set their budgets. It will also have an impact on lawsuits. There are many employees now suing their unions for violation of their First Amendment rights based on the decision in Janus. Some legal experts are predicting that they may have a valid case. So, not only will dues be reduced, but many unions may be facing costly litigation.

These new rules may also extend to the private sector, though not necessarily. The important thing for companies to understand is the importance of having the right legal team to guide you through the changes.

Your California Labor Law Group

At The Royse Law Firm we have a group of talented legal professionals dedicated to the practice of labor and employment laws. Whether your company is facing an employment challenge, labor difficulty, or anything in between, we can help you. Contact us today for a case evaluation.

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