Non-unionised US workers cannot be forced to pay union subs Non-unionised US workers cannot be forced to pay union subs

Non-unionised US workers cannot be forced to pay union subs
04 Jul 2018

The US Supreme Court has ruled that non-unionised workers cannot be forced to pay fees to public sector unions, in a decision hailed by President Donald Trump as a “big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!”

The five-four decision on Janus v. AFSCME [American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees] has been described as the “single most consequential ruling of the year”.

The case centred on Mark Janus, an employee at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who sued AFSCME. He argued that government employees who choose not to join unions should not be forced to pay 'fair-share' or 'agency' fees that support union contract negotiations — even if they benefit from them.

Janus claimed the commitment was a violation of workers' First Amendment rights, as it compelled public sector employees to fund “political advocacy” that might go against their own beliefs.

But as The New York Times noted: "Unions say that reasoning is flawed. Non-members are already entitled to refunds of payments spent on political activities, like advertising to support a political candidate."

According to Refinery29, the decision will have a disproportionate impact on women and workers of colour, as unions have traditionally helped disenfranchised groups fight for fair pay.

Nearly half of union members work in the public sector and many of them are women. As a result, the Economic Policy Institute said: "Black women in particular could be hurt by Janus, as they are disproportionately represented in public sector jobs."

It added that they have traditionally faced a double pay gap — a gender pay gap and a racial wage gap. “However, unions help reduce these pay gaps. Working black women in unions are paid 94.9% of what their black male counterparts make, while non-union black women are paid just 91% of their counterparts," it pointed out.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.kewywo

The US Supreme Court has ruled that non-unionised workers cannot be forced to pay fees to public sector unions, in a decision hailed by President Donald Trump as a “big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!”

The five-four decision on Janus v. AFSCME [American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees] has been described as the “single most consequential ruling of the year”.

The case centred on Mark Janus, an employee at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, who sued AFSCME. He argued that government employees who choose not to join unions should not be forced to pay 'fair-share' or 'agency' fees that support union contract negotiations — even if they benefit from them.

Janus claimed the commitment was a violation of workers' First Amendment rights, as it compelled public sector employees to fund “political advocacy” that might go against their own beliefs.

But as The New York Times noted: "Unions say that reasoning is flawed. Non-members are already entitled to refunds of payments spent on political activities, like advertising to support a political candidate."

According to Refinery29, the decision will have a disproportionate impact on women and workers of colour, as unions have traditionally helped disenfranchised groups fight for fair pay.

Nearly half of union members work in the public sector and many of them are women. As a result, the Economic Policy Institute said: "Black women in particular could be hurt by Janus, as they are disproportionately represented in public sector jobs."

It added that they have traditionally faced a double pay gap — a gender pay gap and a racial wage gap. “However, unions help reduce these pay gaps. Working black women in unions are paid 94.9% of what their black male counterparts make, while non-union black women are paid just 91% of their counterparts," it pointed out.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.kewywo

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