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In 1977 in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that public employees, including school teachers, could legally be required to pay a fee if they refuse to join a public-sector union. According to the Detroit Board of Education, the fee was necessary to off-set the costs the union incurred while bargaining on behalf of union and non-union members alike.
A similar case came to the Supreme Court in 2014, but the Supreme Court did not answer the primary question of Abood, instead ruling that the public employees in question were not actually public employees. Last year, the Supreme Court was left in deadlock in a similar case on the same issue after Justice Scalia’s passing.
Janus v. AFSCME, brought by an employee of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services who does not believe he should be legally obliged to join a union, is pending cert in the Supreme Court. William Messenger, Staff Attorney at the National Right to Work Foundation, joined us to discuss the probability of Janus being heard at the Court and what that could mean for the future of public-sector employees and unions.
- William L. Messenger, Staff Attorney, National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation, Inc.