Monday, January 11, 2016

At Supreme Court, Public Unions Face Possible Major Setback

I have very mixed feelings about this:

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Monday in a case that could deal a severe blow to organized labor.

The justices will consider whether government workers who choose not to join unions may nonetheless be required to help pay for collective bargaining. The California teachers who brought the suit say the requirement violates the First Amendment, as they say they are being forced to subsidize activities with which they disagree.

Should the teachers' argument prevail, public-sector unions across the nation, already under political pressure, could lose tens of millions of dollars and find their effectiveness diminished.

I'm no fan of the teachers unions (to say the least), but in general, I think the decline of unionization in this country has been a total disaster – a major contributor to wages that haven't kept up with productivity gains and corporate profitability, the hollowing out of the middle class, and the surge in income inequality. Most of the decline has taken place in the private sector, where the unionization rate has gone from more than 30% in the early 1970s to 6.6% today, whereas the public sector rate has remained fairly steady in the mid-30s (35.7% in 2014). Thus, an unfavorable ruling in this case would be a big blow to the last remaining bulwark of unionization in this country.

At Supreme Court, Public Unions Face Possible Major Setback

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