THE NEXT BIG FIGHT OVER ORGANIZED LABOR MAY ALREADY BE HERE.

Author:Boehm, Eric
Position::REGULATION
 
FREE EXCERPT

JUNE'S SUPREME COURT ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) freed public sector workers from being required to pay dues to unions to which they do not belong. It was kind of a big deal, and a single sentence in Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion hints at what might be the next major legal fight over American unionism. "The State may require that a union serve as exclusive bargaining agent for its employees," Alito wrote. He then called that arrangement "a significant impingement on associational freedoms that would not be tolerated in other contexts."

The associate justice was likely talking about something called "exclusive representation." Section 9 of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947--the federal law that set many of the rules still governing American labor unions today--established that only one union may represent workers in a given "bargaining unit." For example, all public school teachers in a school district must be members of the same union. If they want to join a different union, they have to go to a different school district. Imagine if the Elks Lodge could ban residents of a town from joining the Lions Club.

The legitimacy of exclusive bargaining power was not an issue in Janus, so Alito's decision to mention it in his ruling "seems to be inviting such litigation," says Michael Reitz, executive vice president of the Mackinac Center, a Michigan free...

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