U.S. Supreme Court decision affects public labor union fees

For unions in New York City and across the United States, it is important to keep a close eye on how changes to labor law and union requirements will affect them. Since there has been an ongoing debate about how public sector unions collect membership dues, a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court clarifies this issue and is expected to make things tougher for unions. According to the Court, unions can no longer collect union fees from workers who are not members. This was an important part of the unions' ability to afford collective bargaining.

With changes like these taking place and others possible, all unions - public and private - must make certain they are protected by an experienced law firm who understands how to address these changes. New York is one of 22 states that allows unions to charge fees to non-members. Even non-union members who refused to contribute derived benefit from these negotiations. An estimated 5 million workers might be affected by this decision. The remainder of the states in the union are "right to work" states, meaning the fee collecting practices could not take place and collective bargaining was not allowed.

One concern stemming from this decision is that many union members might decide to leave so they no longer have to pay the fees. The number of union members in the U.S. has declined significantly in the past 35 years. Public unions account for close to 35 percent of government workers. Attempts are being made to garner support for the unions in the face of this decision. Union members pay an estimated 1 to 2 percent of their annual wages for union activities. This includes legal fees, research, communications, and negotiations. It is not expected that substantial numbers of workers will leave the unions, but this issue remains a concern.

While this decision affects public sector workers, all unions and labor union members should be aware of the changes that are taking place and the attempts to reduce union influence. Unions help workers maximize their benefits, be treated fairly, get vacation time and sick time and much more. A law firm experienced in understanding the viewpoint of union members should be contacted regarding any union issue, including membership problems and disputes among members and union management.

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