The largest public-sector unions in the country may lose up to 400,000 fee payers after the Supreme Court declared mandatory payments unconstitutional. The decision could cut into the coffers of the Democratic Party.
On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled that government agencies could no longer require workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The 5-4 ruling, which overturned the 1977 Abood precedent allowing unions to charge “fair share fees” to all workers, including nonmembers, could deal a devastating blow to the coffers of unions. The ruling gives agency fee payers—those who pay partial dues supposed to cover expenses like grievances and collective bargaining rather than political activities—the ability to halt all payments to unions. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), National Education Association (NEA), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) represent millions of government employees at the state and local level, as well as about 400,000 agency fee payers, though not all of them are directly affected by the decision, according to 2017 federal labor filings.
Todd Lyon, a management-side attorney with Fisher Phillips, has represented several employers engaged in negotiations with public-sector unions. He expects the loss of revenue from agency fee payments to take a toll, with major cuts coming to payroll, political lobbying, and campaign spending.