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Justices step into dispute over union's use of nonmembers' dues

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today stepped into a dispute over a labor union’s use of fees paid by non-union employees to finance the labor organization’s court battles in other states.

Twenty state workers in Maine are challenging the expenditure by the labor union that bargains on their behalf.

The nonmembers are required to pay a service fee for the union’s collective bargaining efforts and contract administration.

The Service Employees International Union relies on portions of the fees to subsidize lawsuits concerning SEIU units other than Local 1989 to which the 20 current and former state employees belong.

At issue is whether a state can condition public employment on the paying of fees for such purposes.

The case is the latest instance of the justices addressing issues that could erode the power of labor unions.

Last June, the court ruled that states may force public sector labor unions to get consent from workers before using their fees for political activities.

Three months ago, the court agreed to decide the validity of a state law that limits employers’ ability to weigh in on union organizing.

The case is Locke v. Karass, 07-610.


Wash. governor OKs union-dues bill

Chris Gregoire signs measure into law despite criticism that it is clear labor-backed attempt to circumvent pending ruling by U.S. Supreme Court. 05.14.07

10th Circuit OKs political payroll deductions

Three-judge panel overturns Utah law that bars automatic withdrawals used to fund political activity by public-employee unions. 01.14.08

Wash. judge won't freeze builders group's political spending
Three companies had sought temporary injunction while they challenge association's use of funds for political activity. 10.01.08

Unanimous Court sides with union in legal-fees case
Justices agree Maine public employees' union can force non-union government workers to help pay for national litigation. 01.21.09

Public unions suffer setback over fees
By Tony Mauro Davenport shows shift away from labor unions in balancing First Amendment rights of unions, nonmembers.
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