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November 14, 2002

Supremes Leave Pro-Union Case in Place

Okay, I am giving a big cheer this morning.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a decision this past Spring by the 9th Circuit that upheld the right of unions to charge any workers covered by contracts for the costs of organizing new workers.

I wrote a Populist column about the importance of the 9th Circuit decision last May with more detail.

In the past, the Supreme Court has argued that even when workers benefit from a union contract, they could refuse to pay the union dues that created those benefits where the use of the money was not "germane" to collective bargaining, such as political activity by the union. In this past spring's decision, the 9th Circuit declared that since new organizing and union strength makes it easier to negotiate good contracts for all union members, such organizing costs were in fact "germane" and could be charged to protesting members without violating the First Amendment.

While this is obviously a help to unions in funding organizing campaigns, for a bunch of more subtle legal reasons, this is an incredibly important decision. Assuming the Court does not revisit the decision later, this is a happy and somewhat surprising victory for union organizing.

Surprisingly, the Bush administration took the union side in the appeal, with Solicitor General Theodore Olsen saying "Organizing activity having such a straightforward economic purpose is not ideological in any relevant sense." Maybe that Teamster influence is actually having some effect.

Posted by Nathan at November 14, 2002 05:42 AM

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There has _got_ to be a catch.

Posted by: Barry at November 15, 2002 06:43 AM

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