It's not clear when the court will issue a ruling in the case.
“In essence, the union has to acknowledge wrongdoing before a case is moot, and they’ve never done that,” said Young, the attorney representing the plaintiffs.
“They fear what this court will do, and I think they have reason to,” Young said, adding that a ruling could potentially have broad implications for how unions charge members and non-members.
A veteran labor attorney in Wisconsin, who has been representing school boards for decades, recently told EAG that public sector union leaders are mostly concerned with preserving the flow of dues money, and preserving the right to use that money for political causes they believe in.
He noted that many teachers unions across Wisconsin scrambled last year to extend their collective bargaining agreements with school boards. They wanted to get that done before the implementation of Act 10, which made it illegal for schools to deduct union dues from employee paychecks once the union contracts expire.
Union leaders in many districts were willing to sacrifice many employee perks to get their contracts extended. The one perk they desperately wanted to preserve was automatic dues deduction from paychecks, according to the attorney.
“All of a sudden they would call me and say, ‘Let’s settle this contract,’” the attorney said. “It’s all about the kids, right? The kids? Ha! They sold their members out for dues.”
Employees don’t pay when it’s not required
There is a reason union officials are vigorously fighting to preserve the automatic dues deduction system.
Washington Post columnist George Will laid it out in an editorial during Big Labor’s battle over Act 10 in Wisconsin last year.
“After Colorado in 2001 required public employees unions to have annual votes reauthorizing collection of dues, membership in the Colorado Association of Public Employees declined 70 percent. In 2005, Indiana stopped collecting dues from unionized public employees; in 2011, there are 90 percent fewer dues-paying members,” Wills wrote.
“In Utah, the end of automatic dues deductions for political activities in 2001 caused teachers’ payments to fall 90 percent. After a similar law passed in 1992 in Washington State, the percentage of teachers making such contributions declined from 82 to 11.”
Perhaps union members are hesitant to voluntarily pay because they don’t believe the benefits they receive from their unions are worth the dues. Perhaps it’s because they don’t like their union’s aggressive political activities and negotiating tactics.
Regardless, the SEIU case and Right-to-Work legislation pending in numerous states is turning up the heat on Big Labor’s forced dues racket.
And that’s encouraging progress for public employees who have been forced to fund Big Labor’s antics for far too long.
Contact Victor Skinner at
or (231) 733-4202