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The Supreme Court Need Not “Ignore Pleading Rules” to Decide the Constitutionality of Forced Union Dues Imposed on Public Employees

Raymond J. LaJeunesse September 20, 2017
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The petition for certiorari filed in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees, Council 31, asks the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether 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.[1] This is the precise issue that the Court considered last term in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Ass’n, but did not decide after oral argument due to the untimely death of Justice Scalia.[2],[3  [Read More]

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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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Supreme Court Columns

Friedrichs Redux

Raymond J. Nhan, David Dewhirst February 02, 2017
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Of the many cases affected by the untimely passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, no case had more far-reaching First Amendment potential than Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. One of the most anticipated cases during the October 2015 term, the case required the Court to determine whether it would accede to public school teachers’ request and overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Abood arose as a sort of First Amendment aberration in 1977, holding that public employees could be forced to pay unions compulsory agency fees as a condition of employment. [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.

 

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NLRB Uses FOIA to Hinder Employee Rights
Photo Credit: Geraldshields11 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons (link)

Department of Labor’s Radical Reinterpretation of the Persuader Rule is Enjoined: A Victory for Fairness, Separation of Powers, and for the Attorney-Client Privilege

John G. Malcolm July 05, 2016
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Last week, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sam Cummings of the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide injunction to prevent implementation of the Department of Labor’s radical new reinvention reinterpretation of the ‘persuader rule.’ The court’s well-reasoned and thorough decision has put a halt, at least temporarily, to this egregious example of executive overreaching to support this Administration’s union allies, but which posed a genuine threat to the confidentiality of attorney-client communications. [Read More]