The case featuring several Illinois state employees as plaintiffs challenging compulsory dues to unions as a condition of employment could take center stage because of the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, said with the vacancy on the Supreme Court from the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, the court could be evenly split on the question from Friedrichs v California Teachers’ Association.
Click here for summary
“That would allow the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to stand which basically says forcing workers to pay dues or fees to get or keep a job in the government sector is perfectly fine,” Mix said.
That’s something Mix said could make Illinois’ case the go-to case to raise the question back in front of the high court.
“It could be the Illinois case will lead again, depending on what the court will do with the Friedrichs case that’s pending there now,” Mix said.
Governor Bruce Rauner originally filed a case challenging so-called “fair share” dues, but several Illinois state employees took to the case before Rauner’s attempt was dismissed.
Mix noted the reason the Friedrichs case made it to the Supreme Court was because of the case home healthcare workers raised in Illinois about being forced into a union. Mix said the 2014 Harris v. Quinn ruling “says you can’t compel someone to speak and use their money for that speech that is First Amendment speech,” but that case only dealt with one sector of employees.
Mix said there are several cases across the country, some dealing only public employees forced into unions and others dealing private sector employees, that were stayed, “which is a legal term meaning they were stopped -- pending the outcome of the Friedrichs case,” Mix explained.
Meanwhile unions contend their operations are funded in part by the non-full dues paying members and removing fair share would impact union finances.
Alongside the National Right to Work Foundation, the Liberty Justice Center is also representing the Illinois plaintiffs in the case. Liberty Justice Center is a public-interest law firm started by the Illinois Policy Institute, the parent organization of Illinois News Network and Illinois Radio Network.