For approximately 40 years, public sector employee unions could collect union “agency fees” from the paychecks of even those employees who chose not to join the union. The premise was that even non-members benefitted from the contracts the unions negotiated with public entities, so should have to pay at least something for that benefit. Many of the non-member employees objected because the unions at times took positions on political or other issues with which they disagreed, but were forced to pay to support. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the employees and ruled on June 27, 2018 that mandatory public-sector union agency fees are unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
The 5-4 majority held that “neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay,”.
The dissent disagreed at least in part because of the practical consequences: “public employee unions will lose a secure source of financial support. State and local governments that thought fair-share provisions furthered their interests will need to find new ways of managing their workforces”.
Public employers have stopped collecting non-member agency fees and many will be monitoring the effect of the lost revenue going forward.