Supreme Court of the US rules on public sector labor unions spending of non member fees

On June 14th the Supreme Court handed down it’s unanimous decision in the case of Petitioner Gary Davenport et al Vs Washington Education Association. The case relates to labor unions ” using the agency-shop fees of a nonmember for election related purposes unless the nonmember affirmatively consents.”

In the Syllabus it reads: “contrary to respondent’s argument, 760 is not unconstitutional under the Court’s campaign-finance cases. For First Amendment purposes, it is immaterial that 760 restricts a union’s use of funds only after they are within the union’s possession. The fees are in the union’s possession only because Washington and its union-contracting government agencies have compelled their employees to pay these fees. The campaign finance cases deal instead with governmental restrictions on how a regulated entity may spend money that has come into its possession without such coercion.”

In the closing Opinion of the Court it reads:

“We hold that it does not violate the First Amendment for a state to require that its public -sector unions receive affirmative authorization from a nonmember before spending that nonmember’s agency fees for election-related purposes. We therefore vacate the judgement of the Supreme Court of Washington and remand the cases for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered”

Stop for a moment and think back to Prop 75, the “paycheck protection Initiative”, where we wanted to mandate similar authorization before the CTA could use a portion of member dues for political purposes without authorization.

Although we carried that Initiative in Orange County garnering 63.8 percent of the vote we eventually lost statewide.

Based on today’s US Supreme Court ruling I would encourage activists to reconsider another Initiative to address this abuse. Union members should not be expected to show their position by making personal Op-Out requests.


About Larry Gilbert