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Time to Rethink Government Unions


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time-to-rethink-government-unionsFront Page Magazine:

logoIt is time to introduce markets into the states’ public sector labor relations systems by eliminating agency fees and allowing public employees to join competing unions or no union at all. In Harris v. Quinn, decided on June 30, the Supreme Court held that an Illinois law that forced home healthcare workers to join the Service Employees International Union or else pay an agency fee violated their First Amendment rights. Dicta in the case suggest that some members of the court are now open to asking more general questions about agency fees. State governments should seize the initiative.

Agency fees are charged to nonmembers who work in unionized, public sector settings; they typically equal the union dues. Their rationale is that nonmembers are otherwise free riders who benefit from the union without paying. That argument assumes that unions benefit all public sector workers, but they do not. Some public employees are forced to contribute to unions that reduce their pay.


In the 1977 precedent of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that dissenting agency fee payers can request a refund of the portion of the agency fee charged for political lobbying, for forcing employees to pay for political advocacy with which they disagree violates their First Amendment rights.Scissors-32x32.png

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