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Total Articles: 22

Take Two: The Supreme Court Again to Decide the Constitutionality of Public Sector Union “Fair Share Fees”

As we previously reported, in July 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided to hear an appeal of a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the legality of “fair share” fees for public employees. Fair share fees are fees that are proportionate to the union’s costs associated with collective bargaining, contract administration and other activities germane to the union’s duties as the collective bargaining representative. Public sector unions cannot use fair share fees toward their political activities.

Lawmakers Re-Introduce Bill to Overturn NLRB's Micro Bargaining Unit Decision

As expected, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) has reintroduced a bill targeting the National Labor Relations Board's decision in Specialty Healthcare, 357 NLRB No. 83 (2011). The Representation Fairness Restoration Act (S.1217) would reinstate the pre-2011 standard for determining which employees belong in a particular bargaining unit. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) introduced a companion bill (H.R. 2629) in the House of Representatives.

Labor Unions Use Technology to Grow and Maintain Membership

Labor unions today are “tech” savvy, using mobile app and other technology to grow and maintain their memberships.

NLRB General Counsel Seeks to Limit an Employer's Ability to Withdraw Union Recognition

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard Griffin wants the Board to declare it unlawful for employers to withdraw recognition from an incumbent union without an NLRB election. See GC Memorandums GC 16-01 (Mar. 22, 2016) and GC-1603 (May 9, 2016). This would be a major change from current Board law articulated in Levitz Furniture Co. of the Pacific, 333 NLRB 717 (2001), which permits employers to unilaterally withdraw recognition from an incumbent union based upon “objective evidence” that the union has lost majority support (i.e., typically a petition signed by a majority of bargaining unit employees indicating that they no longer wish to be represented by their union). The General Counsel’s proposed change will not become law unless it is adopted by a majority of the Board.

Supreme Court Upholds The Constitutionality of Public Sector Union “Fair Share Fees”

As we previously reported, in July 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided to hear an appeal of a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the legality of “fair share” fees for public employees. On March 29, 2016, an equally divided Supreme Court issued a one-sentence decision affirming the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, thereby upholding the constitutionality of state laws that allow unions to charge public employees who choose to opt-out of union membership “fair share” fees.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Public Employee Unions

In a simple, one-sentence decision handed down on March 29, 2016, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the U.S. Supreme Court preserved the ability of public employee unions across the country to collect fair share fees from non-union employees in their bargaining unit. The per curiam decision simply stated: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”

Supreme Court Signals Skepticism of Public-Sector Union Agency Fees

On January 11, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Frederichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that will decide whether public-sector employees can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The latest battle over the payment of union fees in the public sector arose from claims by some California teachers that state "agency shop" laws violate free speech and association rights under the First Amendment. California law requires teachers working in most of its public schools to financially contribute to the local teachers' union and that union's state and national affiliates to subsidize collective bargaining expenses. California law also requires public school teachers to subsidize expenditures unrelated to collective bargaining unless a teacher affirmatively objects and then renews his or her opposition in writing every year.

As Expected, the NLRB Eliminates the Employer's Right to Terminate Dues Checkoff Upon Expiration of a CBA

On August 27, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board, in Lincoln Lutheran of Racine, 362 NLRB No. 188, overturned 53 years of precedent, holding that, like most other terms and conditions of employment, an employer’s obligation to check off union dues continues after expiration of a collective bargaining agreement that contains such a provision. The Board’s determination is not surprising in light of its 2012 decision in WKYC-TV1, which held similarly, but was overturned (on procedural grounds) by the U.S. Supreme Court in NLRB v. Noel Canning, 134 S.Ct. 2550 (2014).

What’s Next for Contractual Dues-Checkoff Provisions?

As we previously observed here, no cases that were invalidated by the United States Supreme Court in Noel Canning v. NLRB remain for the National Labor Relations Board to decide.

Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Public Section Union "Fair Share Fees"

Yesterday, the United State Supreme Court granted certiorari in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and will consider whether public sector agency shop arrangements, also known as “fair share” contractual provisions, violate the First Amendment. The Supreme Court also will consider whether “opt-out” provisions for fair share fees violate the First Amendment by forcing non-union member employees to object to payments related to union political activity. This case presents the Court with an opportunity to overturn its 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, in which it held that state laws may require public sector employees to pay fees for the non-political work that public sector unions perform on their behalf, including collective bargaining. Under Abood, unions and the courts have defended such provisions as a means to permit unions to prevent non-union members from “free-riding” on the unions’ efforts to improve employment benefits without sharing the costs incurred. If the Supreme Court overturns Abood, it could strike a major financial blow to public sector unions across the country.

Supreme Court Issues Decision In Harris V.Quinn: Abood Survives, But For How Long?

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court issued its anxiously anticipated decision in Harris v. Quinn, a case brought by Illinois home health aides challenging the requirement in a collective bargaining agreement that they pay their “fair share” of the cost of union representation. Although the State of Illinois and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) (the parties that negotiated the collective bargaining agreement in question) had prevailed before the District Court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, when this case made its way to the Supreme Court it became a vehicle for the potential overruling of long-standing Court precedent regarding “fair share” deductions first established in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977). In Abood, the Court endorsed the proposition that a governmental entity may, consistent with the First Amendment, require public employees who exercise their option not to become members of a union to pay their “fair share” of the cost incurred by the union in representing them for purposes of collective bargaining.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Mandatory Union "Fair Share" Deductions For Public Sector Employees

Today, in a 5 to 4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to extend its previous holdings regarding “fair-share” fees (fees that an employee who refuses to join a union is required to pay in lieu of union dues) to caretakers who are paid by the government to give home care to disabled individuals as part of a state program. According to the Court, in this setting, mandatory fair-share fees are unconstitutional. Harris v. Quinn.

Supreme Court Rejects Labor’s Mandatory Dues Collection Initiative in Favor of Workers’ First Amendment Rights

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits a public-employee union from collecting an agency fee from home-care workers who do not want to join or support the union. According to the majority opinion, which Justice Alito wrote in a 5-to-4 decision, the Court’s holding reaffirmed “the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.” Harris v. Quinn, No. 11–681, Supreme Court of the United States (June 30, 2014).

NLRB Requires Non-Union Member To Pay For Lobbying Fees

The National Labor Relations Board recently held that United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) did not violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by failing to provide an audit-verification letter to a non-member objector, Jeannette Geary, who opposed the UNAP charging her for lobbying expenses.

Union Membership Continues to Decline According to New Data Released by Department of Labor

On January 23, 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor issued its annual report on union membership. The report tracks statistics and trends for both union membership—defined as wage and salary workers who reported being members of a union—and union representation—defined as both union members and workers “who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract.” Across almost every industry and demographic, the statistics showed a decrease in both union membership and union representation as compared to 2011.

NLRB Judge Rules That Threatening Posts on Union's Facebook Page Are Not Union's Responsibility

Executive Summary: Citing the Communications Decency Act, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge held that a union that maintained a Facebook page did not have a duty to disavow threatening comments posted by union members.

Supreme Court Restricts Public Sector Unions’ Collection of Nonmember Fees

In a decision upholding the free speech rights of public employees represented by but not belonging to a union, the U.S. Supreme Court held last week that a public sector union must provide the requisite “Hudson notice” and receive affirmative consent from nonmembers prior to imposing a special assessment or other mid-year dues increase. Knox v. Service Employees Int’l Union Local 1000.

Supreme Court Clarifies Union Fees For Non-Members

Today the U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to employees who choose not to join a union, but who are nevertheless required to pay a fee to the union. Unions are already required to provide a notice to such employees spelling out the specific uses the fees will be put to, and allowing the employee to opt out of paying some of them.

Supreme Court Holds that Public Sector Unions Must Provide Nonmembers Notice and Opportunity to Opt Out of Special Assessments or Fee Increases

Calling the SEIU's "aggressive use of power to collect fees from nonmembers indefensible," the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, has held that the union violated the First Amendment by not sending a new Hudson notice when it levied a special assessment to meet expenses that were not disclosed when the amount of the regular assessment was set.

Supreme Court Holds That International Unions Are Not Accountable For Inducing Locals To Violate Collective Bargaining Agreements.

In the final labor and employment law decision for the 2009-10 term, on June 24, 2010, the Supreme Court held that a unionized employer may not pursue an action against an international union for inciting a local union to violate the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. The Supreme Court also held that it was a court's job (rather than an arbitrator's job) to determine whether a collective bargaining agreement with an arbitration clause was actually entered into.

Supreme Court Rules That States May Prohibit Dues Deductions For Unions' Political Activities.

On February 24, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the state of Idaho, which has a right-to-work law generally permitting payroll deductions for union dues, to prohibit such deductions for union political activities. This decision underscores the rights of states to separate the operation of government from partisan politics, even in the context of local governments having public-union labor contracts with dues check-off provisions.

SEIU Forms New National Healthcare Union.

On January 29th, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced it will be forming a national healthcare union, which they predict will be composed of nearly 1 million members by the end of this year.
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