Seeing the Glass Part Full for the Labor Movement

This term, the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME will decide the constitutional fate of fair-share fees for public sector unions. These fees support unions’ collective bargaining work on behalf of employees they are legally required to represent but who are not union members. Most prognosticators expect the Court to hand the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF) a win on its claim that such fees violate the First Amendment rights of non-union workers. Yet, as I develop further below, the history that led to Janus offers three thin rays of hope to the labor movement. First, history highlights the role principled conservative justices have played in thwarting right-to-work advocates’ prior attacks on union fees, pointing the way to a possible victory for unions in Janus. In 1977, the Supreme Court decided Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the decision that found fair-share fee agreements for public-sector…

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