Court curtails union fees

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The U.S. Supreme Court came down against organized labor recently in a 7-2 ruling that opens the door for objections to unexpected fee increases or special assessments.

Unions must allow nonmembers to object to such atypical funding demands, which are typically used for political contributions, the country's highest court determined. The ruling is a boost to employers and especially dissenters in “closed shop” workplaces, where union membership is required during a member's employment there.

The case was brought by non-members of the Service Employees International Union's Local 1000. They objected to paying an unexpected $12 million assessment for use in political campaigning. [SEIU has been an aggressive union organizer in the long-term care environment in recent years.]

“When a public-sector union imposes a special assessment intended to fund solely political lobbying efforts, the First Amendment requires that the union provide non-members an opportunity to opt out of the contribution of funds,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who agreed with the judgment.

The ruling reverses an earlier decision by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan cast the dissenting votes.
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