Friday, October 4, 2013
Reuters has a story today on the three union-related cases on the upcoming Supreme Court term, which features Ben Sachs (Harvard) and Paul Secunda (Marquette). Two of the cases, Mulhall and Noel Canning, we've discussed before, but we (really, "I") have been derelict in mentioning the third: Harris v. Quinn.
In Harris, the Court may be reconsidering the Abood decision from 1977, when it permitted a state to require employees who receive union representation to pay for that representation through mandatory dues. Established Supreme Court law, from Abood to several other cases in the public and private sectors, have allowed mandatory dues that do not include political and other extraneous spending. But the recent Knox opinion had dicta suggesting that several Justices question that basic premise. I agree with Paul & Ben that if the Court overturns Abood et al., it will be a huge deal for unions. In effect, it put the entire country under a right-to-work regime. From the article:
Taken together, the two organized labor cases [Mulhall & Harris] raise significant questions about union power, Harvard University Law School Professor Benjamin Sachs said.
"These are not cases about arcane rules of organizing, rules like where on an employer's property can a union talk to employees," he said. "These are cases that go to the heart of the legal regimes that are necessary to enable unionization.". . .
"Knox put into serious question whether Abood is still good law," said Marquette University law professor Paul Secunda. "Harris might be the vehicle for overruling Abood, making it more difficult for public unions to raise dues."