Union Gives Up Legal Fight To Claim Workers’ Paychecks As Its Own Property

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

A union in Idaho dropped a lawsuit July 12 challenging the state’s right-to-work laws banning “agency” fees nonmembers are forced to pay to public sector unions, Bloomberg reports.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 27 that agency fees, also called “fair share” fees, violated Americans’ right to free speech. Forcing independent workers in a union workspace to pay union bargaining fees – around 85 percent of union dues – is tantamount to forcing private citizens to fund political speech they may not agree with. (RELATED: The Supreme Court Just Handed Down Its Big Decision On Mandatory Union Dues)

The SCOTUS ruling made International Union of Operating Engineers’ lawsuit against Idaho’s law outlawing such fees, enacted years before the Supreme Court decision, much less likely to end successfully, according to Bloomberg.

The union launched its suit against Idaho in 2015. It lost a battle in federal court but appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court, which had not decided a case on agency fees up to that time.

The Supreme Court decision may lead to a large decline in unions’ income from dues and agency fees. The decision affected roughly 5 million public sector workers, many of which may refuse to continue paying agency fees or drop their union representation entirely. (RELATED: Hundreds Of Thousands May Drop Public-Sector Unions In The Wake Of Supreme Court Ruling)

The SCOTUS decision may have ended the International Union of Operating Engineers’ legal action, but it could spawn a series of class-actions lawsuits from public sector workers who previously were forced to pay agency fees. If the class-action lawsuits are successful, unions may be forced to pay back millions in now-illegal fees charged to nonmembers. (RELATED: The Supreme Court Ruled Unions Skimming Wages Without Consent Is Unconstitutional. Now Unions May Have To Pay Those Dues Back)

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