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Right to Work Laws in the Courts — An Update

Raymond J. LaJeunesse July 24, 2017
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Right to Work laws, which prohibit requirements that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment, have been enacted in twenty-eight states and the territory of Guam. Since my last blog on this subject, dated February 22, 2017, the constitutionality of another state Right to Work law has been upheld by a federal appellate court.

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Supreme Court Columns

Are Public-Sector Compulsory Union Fees Doomed?

Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr June 20, 2017
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Twice in the past five years the United States Supreme Court has questioned its holding in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977) (6-3 decision on this issue), that the First Amendment allows a government to force its employees to pay “agency fees” to a labor organization that is their “exclusive representative” for purposes of “collective bargaining” with the government. See Harris v. Quinn, 134 S. Ct. 2618, 2632-34 (2014); Knox v. SEIU, Local 1000, 132 S. Ct.  2277, 2289 (2012). Last term the Court agreed to revisit the issue in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Ass’n, and many legal observers of the oral argument in that case speculated that the Court would overrule Abood. However, the Court deadlocked 4 to 4 in Friedrichs due to the untimely death after oral argument of Justice Antonin Scalia. 136 S. Ct. 1083 (2016). On June 6, 2017, Attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Illinois Liberty Justice Center filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Court for Mark Janus, a nonmember Illinois state employee, that presents the same question that Friedrichs presented: “should Abood be overruled and public-sector agency fee arrangements be declared unconstitutional under the First Amendment?” Janus v. American Fed’n of State, Cty, & Mun. Employees, Council 31, No. 16-1466 (U.S. docketed June 8, 2017). The case has already generated a lot of media attention.

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Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr. is Vice President & Legal Director at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc.

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New Jersey Supreme Court - State Court Docket Watch News Clips: 7/30/2015

Right to Work laws at the polls and in the courts - an update

Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr February 22, 2017
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Since my last blog on this subject, dated November 28, 2016, two more states have enacted Right to Work laws. This brings to twenty-eight the total number of states having such laws, which prohibit requirements that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment. Kentucky's Right to Work law was signed by Governor Matt Bevin on January 7, 2017; it took effect immediately. Missouri's was signed by Governor Eric Greitens on February 6, 2017. It will not go into effect until August 28, 2017. Moreover, if unions obtain a sufficient number of signatures on a petition for a referendum, it will not go into effect unless Missouri voters approve the new law in the 2018 general election. [Read More]

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Should Legal Outcomes Reflect the Truth? by William G. Otis

Right to Work laws at the polls and in the courts

Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr November 28, 2016
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Right to Work laws prohibit requirements that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment. Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act authorizes states to enact such laws. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice upheld the constitutionality of state Right to Work laws. Davenport v. Washington Educ. Ass’n, 551 U.S. 177, 184-85 (2007) (public sector); Lincoln Federal Labor Union No. 19129 v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co., 335 U.S. 525 (1949) (private sector).  In the last four years four states—Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia—have enacted new Right to Work laws, bringing to twenty-six the total number of states having such laws. Finding themselves on the losing side of recent legislative battles over Right to Work, unions have turned to the courts, challenging all four new Right to Work laws, plus Idaho’s, as unconstitutional on various grounds not explicitly addressed in the Supreme Court’s decisions. However, the litigation has ended in Indiana and Michigan with the challenged laws upheld, and the challenged laws continue to be enforceable in the other three states in which the litigation is still pending. Brief summaries of the cases are available.

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Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr. is Vice President & Legal Director at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Inc.