Supreme Court Delivers Huge Blow to Unions!

Mike Mish Shedlock

In Janus vs. AFSCME, the Supreme Court correctly dealt a huge blow to forced membership in unions.

A big round of cheers is in order. Today's Supreme Court Ruling Delivers a Sharp Blow to Labor Unions.

By a 5-to-4 vote, with the more conservative justices in the majority, the court ruled that government workers who choose not to join unions may not be required to help pay for collective bargaining.

Forcing those workers to finance union activity violated the First Amendment, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the majority. “We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern,” he wrote.

The ruling means that public-sector unions across the nation, already under political pressure, could lose tens of millions of dollars and see their effectiveness diminished.

“We recognize that the loss of payments from nonmembers may cause unions to experience unpleasant transition costs in the short term, and may require unions to make adjustments in order to attract and retain members,” Justice Alito wrote. “But we must weigh these disadvantages against the considerable windfall that unions have received” over the years.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch joined the majority opinion, which overruled a four-decade-old precedent.

Wednesday’s ruling overruled the court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which had made a distinction between two kinds of compelled payments. Forcing nonmembers to pay for a union’s political activities violated the First Amendment, the court said. But it was constitutional, the court added, to require nonmembers to help pay for the union’s collective bargaining efforts to prevent freeloading and ensure “labor peace.”

“Abood was poorly reasoned,” Justice Alito wrote. “It has led to practical problems and abuse. It is inconsistent with other First Amendment cases and has been undermined by more recent decisions.”

Wednesday’s ruling contained a final blow for public unions, saying that workers must affirmatively agree to support them.

“Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay,” Justice Alito wrote.

One Word

The word is "perfect".

Abood was an abomination. The ruling was correct but it is just a start.

VOX Nonsense

VOX says, "With its 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court has just imposed a right-to-work regime on public workers everywhere in the country — a profound blow to the union movement."

Unfortunately, VOX is wrong about right-to-work.

The state of Illinois and other non-right-to-work states effectively force people into unions via prevailing wage laws and other means.

Janus did not overturn that. Rather the State of Illinois collected dues from Janus even though he had a private business and was not in any union.

Time for National Right-to-Work Laws

The ruling is a fantastic first step.

It's now time for national right-to-work legislation and the end of all prevailing wage laws.

Trump Appointment

The appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court will be one of the best things Trump does in office depending on what happens to Roe v. Wade.

By the way, Justice Kennedy just resigned, effective July 31. Kennedy sided with the majority

Trump gets another appointment.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (28)
No. 1-28
Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock

Editor

on Janus.

TCW
TCW

Winning is so sweet!

Gramps33
Gramps33

You’re going to say “Mr. President please stop. This is too much winning. I can’t handle all this winning.” The winning will continue until we can’t win anymore.

SleemoG
SleemoG

It's amazing how freedom is ideological. What was the rationale of the four dissenting justices? That it is Constitutionally-permissible to enslave people?

Carlos_
Carlos_

"The appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court will be one of the best things Trump does in office depending on what happens to Row v. Wade." Eventually the pendulum will swing the other way and your tribe will get clobbered. I remember how at first all these Communist, Nazis etc cheer their leaders when the rights of others were destroyed. That lasted until theirs got clobbered. You voted for Trump I know for a fact that you will eventually regret despite who he picks for the Supreme court. BTW how is that command and control style of running the economy working for you?

Carlos_
Carlos_

May be so but I'm yet to see an article that addresses the "command and control" mentality of this president. I saw the same in Venezuela with Chaves and if you go back even more you can see the same with Hitler and also the Soviet Union. You are trying to separate Trump's actions as if you can pick and chose. Let me clue you in: you can't. The reality is that when you have a president (or dictator or whatever) that happens to be a narcissistic egomaniac you eventually get the destruction of everything even the things you supported... Don't believe me? Check history

Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock

Editor

Carlos, you need some help with understanding English or you are purposely distorting my comments. Where did I say I got to pick and choose Trump actions? Answer: I never did. Rather, you laid out that straw man. I do get to pick and choose, not actions, but my response to them, a different thing indeed. The Hitler card is total nonsense. In general, when people play it, it does nothing but prove biased idiocy at best. Trump is not a dictator. You do not know how to translate military-socialist idiocy (Venezuela), to the US.

tz1
tz1

Overturning Roe (not Row) would simply return Abortion regulation to the various states. The Constitution does not contain any power of any branch to regulate Abortion (or contraception, or drugs, etc.).

That is the evil on both sides - they want a big government tyranny, they only disagree on how tyranny should be used and what for. How about not deciding on the federal level and let San Francisco and Salt Lake City have different laws and you can vote with your feet - the most effective voting.

Speaking of which, are you out of Ill yet? I know you were sick of Ill.

Carlos_
Carlos_

I need help understanding English? I said that he uses the same methods Hitler (and Chavez and Stalin used) not that he was like Hitler (he is like any other despot none the less). Let me give you an idea of what I mean. Chavez won his first election supported by the business class. The riches people financed his candidacy. By the time they discover he was a despot was to late. Also, most people (the middle class and the rich) would say: Venezuela is not Cuba so the same won't happen here (LOL). The reality just like I said is that a president with such narcissistic ego will cause as much damage as the power he controls will permit. BTW a little link for your enjoyment :

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

Trump wont get an appointment because it will be stalled in the Senate. Expect a 4-4 court for as long as possible. Likely until 2020.

Archer1
Archer1

From previous communications I know you think this is a big deal. From my own personal experience it won't mean anything. Someone who doesn't want to pay union dues will be hounded and bullied by the union 'rep'. That rep will make sure all co-workers know he is not paying and they will heap on the pile. Eventually, your boss will pull you aside and 'ask' you to join the union for the good of the team. Your life will be miserable unless and until you submit to paying your union dues. Been there done that.

Realist
Realist

Essentially, another blow to the unskilled worker, who has no leverage (other than a union) to command a higher wage. To all the unskilled workers in the US: time to learn some skills if you want a decent job. This should further divide the “haves” from the “have nots”.

Stuki
Stuki

@Carlos_ Even that other dictator, Mussolini, got trains to run on time.....

Mish is almost unequivocally critical of what Trump does. But just like a broken clock, Trump does, on occasion, get one right. All the stuff Mussolini did wrong, doesn't make it wrong to applaud his train scheduling chops.

In general, of course Trump is a disaster. All presidents are. The mere fact that it matters much to anyone, exactly who happens to be taking up space at the White House at any given time, is all the indication needed, that the US President have waaaay too much power and influence over the lives and livelihoods of others.

President N being worse than President N-1 is a given. An inevitability. A simple law of politics, applicable to all stable societies. Things Have been such since at least Jefferson, perhaps even Washington. Just as were the case with Roman emperors.

Unchecked power always keeps growing in size and rapaciousness for the resources of others. It never goes backwards and starts giving back. Not here. Not in Rome. Not in Caracas nor Berlin. The decline only stops at the Venezuela stage. Or, with the sacking of Rome or the bombing of Berlin. IOW, with total collapse.

But even so: In the small, I'm sure even late Roman emperors did something, however small, during their reign, that was, in isolation, a positive.

Carlos_
Carlos_

"Unemployment, so pivotal in bringing him to power, had dropped from 6 million to less than 1 million. National production and income doubled during the same period."

This was during the first 5 years after Hitler ascent to power. The problem of course is no to pay attention to the big picture. The big picture is how is the president is conducting himself when it comes to the rights of ALL people and the constitution and how he deals with his opponents.

Stuki
Stuki

The Big Picture is simply to focus on the size of government. On how big and intrusive it is. Rather than falling for the childish scam that "this time, this Dear Leader is going to be diiifferent than all the other, bad Dear Leaders. 'Cause he said so on TeeVee, and he said he was an eeexpert!"

The main reason Jefferson's government wasn't that bad, comparatively speaking, wasn't that Jefferson happened to be some sort of saint. But rather that he had a combined budget of $7mill, no standing army, no national police, few if any prisons, no Federal reserve, no income taxes and no runaway Supreme Court "interpreting" whatever they fancied. As well as a population simultaneously protective of their freedoms, too bright to accept anything but specie as payment, and armed better than any military Jefferson could ever hope to raise.

Given those, proper and necessary for any government to have a hope of remaining civilized, constraints; Trump and the rest of them would be a lot harder pressed to do all that much damage as well. Silly tweeting be damned.

MntGoat
MntGoat

I agree with Mish 100% on this. We need national right to work laws. Public sector unions should also be banned from contributing to campaigns. And defined benefit public pensions should 100% phased out.

Gumwars
Gumwars

@Mish, I am a regular visitor to your column, and often enjoy your perspective on things. In this particular case, I respectfully disagree with your perspective. I am a public employee, and started the process of organizing after dealing with a decade of poor management, arbitrary discipline, and stalled wages (while watching the rest of our agency balloon in compensation). Without the power to organize, what recourse do we have? If a federal right-to-work law were passed, it would be a field day for management across the board to abuse its labor whenever and however it saw fit. How do you see labor being able to assert its rights if the deck is loaded to favor management? I find it odd that in all this discussion you don't recall the coal miners and the Battle of Blair Mountain; before the right to organize was federally protected, the alternative was bedlam. Do we need to return to a point where labor literally fought with employers for basic, humane working conditions? Do we need to see the pendulum swing all the way back in favor of corporate America (as if it isn't a loaded deck already)? I don't mean to be dramatic but this "win" for management means the middle class will continue to shrink, the top consolidates more power, and wealth inequality becomes more pronounced. How is this a good thing?

$blankman
$blankman

I’m not that familiar with public sector labor laws. In the private sector, unions have a legal “duty of fair representation” (DFR) – which means that they must bargain for and in other ways represent all members of the bargaining unit, whether those persons join the union or not. When they bargain wages and benefits, for example, they cannot exclude those who do not belong to the union. The same if a non-member (of the union, not the bargaining unit) wishes to have a grievance filed on their behalf by the union – up to and including arbitration. In such cases, the non-members become “free-riders.”

Eliminate unfair DFR, and unions even in right-to-work states might gain membership. Again, I am not as familiar with public sector rules.

Stuki
Stuki

Whether you your sell labor, Gold or guns; your recourse as a seller is to reject a bid you consider too low. Sell it to someone else, if you reckon you can get a better price elsewhere.

Basic economics 101. Buyer tries to pay as little as he can get away with; seller tries to get as much as he can. At some equilibrium price they meet. The fewer restrictions there are on either of them, the closer that equilibrium price is to the most efficient price for said good/service at the current instant. Which is the price that corresponds to the greatest value add, hence wealth, for any given level of effort.

All interactions between people are governed by the above rule. Though progressives, and other economic illiterates, may never be able to grasp this, it's more universal than gravity. There are no "special cases." Just as things are never different now, "but, but, but...." is merely mindless stutter, "the system" collapsing is in fact a good thing, and neither "market failures" nor hobgoblins exist in the real world. They're imaginary.

All having an overreaching government pretend the world consists of a million little special cases accomplishes; is growth of unproductive government itself, and facilitation of crass theft from one party (the least connected one), in order to hand the loot to the party better connected.

Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock

Editor

Gumwars: Public unions and public service are incompatible. Even FDR recognized this issue. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15445 That may be the only thing I agree with FDR about. He was undeniably correct.

JonSellers
JonSellers

If I am a union leader I will demand a raise for members and no raise for non-members. Simple and used to be done all the time.

Sechel
Sechel

I view this as an imperfect solution. On the one hand public unions foster corruption and the trading of votes for union raises but on the other hand this will impact private unions as well and many members get their insurance and benefits from the union.

I'm actually surprised nobody thought of unions agreeing not to exercise speech on behalf of its members and strictly engaging in bargaining. Theoretically the free speech objection goes away, or have I mis-understood the decision Mish?

Envir
Envir

This is GREAT news but better news is to come as it will eventually lower wages for the entire middle class! Hard to beat that!

Gumwars
Gumwars

I hear and understand your points about market equilibrium. I would offer that an issue is missed regarding the fact that labor is not equivalent to a good or product, though in economic circles it is often thought of as interchangeable. Labor, depending on the function it serves, can be highly specialized or so menial that anyone can fulfill its obligations. In the case where labor becomes so specialized that it cannot easily be re-purposed, those people that hold those skills can find situations where seeking "a better strike price" is not an option.

Yes, I am stating that it is a gross oversimplification to say, "learn a different trade." To some, that is an option; to others, that have spent decades performing a specific trade, not so much. I'll address this further in my response to Mish.

Gumwars
Gumwars

Thank you for taking the time to write back Mish, I do appreciate it. I mostly agree with you when it comes to how the economy should be handled. In this case, I feel that something has been missed.

If we agree with the SCOTUS decision, then it opens a Pandora's box of unintended (or perhaps quite intended) consequence. If labor unions that serve public employees are all considered to be expressions of a political will, up to and including their activity in collective bargaining, then by extension, we are saying that the will of the public employee themselves is a political expression. In fact, the ruling seems to lean in favor of the position that even being a public employee is making a political statement.

I have read and understand your position about how public unions, in particular, can become corrupt and misaligned from protecting the public trust to advancing only their own agendas. I can also speak, personally, that public agencies themselves are not removed from acting poorly in regards to how they treat their labor. As I stated previously, and was not addressed in your reply, I've worked at a public agency for more than a decade and have been the personal recipient of treatment that has made me, at times, consider a great many dark solutions.

I mentioned in a response to another reader here that a common reply I would expect from those economically minded is to simply find work elsewhere. Well, that isn't always possible in the real world. I work in the transportation industry working at an agency that provides heavy rail commuter services. My options for alternate employment would be to go back to working for the freight railroads, which are meatgrinders. My options are to stay in an abusive work environment or return to an abusive work environment. My skillset is such that retraining into a different industry would take years using time that I don't always have when working shifts that don't line up with school or vocational training. As a father of three and husband, even more focus is made on keeping the job I have for my family's sake, regardless of how I feel.

My point is that it isn't as simple as finding work elsewhere. Minus that option, what I can do is organize and attempt to make the working conditions here bearable. What political motivation is there in that? How is wanting to work without fear of arbitrary termination, loss of wages, or medical coverage somehow a sin against society? I pay my taxes. I work hard to ensure the service I provide is the best that can be offered. Our agency does the work it does better than its private sector competitors. Just 30 miles away, the BNSF and UPRR attempt to do what we do, and fail at it daily.

While you've made the claim that public unions have no place in the labor force, you have yet to provide a logical proof that validates that claim. My understanding is that the quality of the union is determined by the quality of its membership. I can speak for the people I represent and we are no drain on the public trust. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for our members while simultaneously improving the service we provide. Fair wages for fair work, with termination for cause. Please explain what is wrong with that.


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