Supreme Court Stops SEIU from Stealing Members’ Dues
Today the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision that the SEIU was violating nonmembers’ rights to decide whether or not they want to pay unexpected fee increases or special assessments, known as Beck rights. Members of the SEIU’s local 1000 were not given proper notice of a dues increase that would fund a $12 million special assessment for political campaigning. The union, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said the annual notice that the union gives was enough notice, but SCOTUS disagreed.
Obviously workers’ rights prevailed in this case and the Court saw the violation of First Amendment rights. In the Court’s opinion Justice Alito wrote, “when a public-sector union imposes a special assessment or dues increase, the union must provide a fresh…notice and may not exact any funds from nonmembers without their affirmative consent”.
This was an important case to watch because of the repercussions it could have on other labor disputes and whether unions have the right to require members to contribute to funds for political campaigning. However, it is important to note that Justice Sotomayor wrote her own opinion and in it she made clear that unions must provide nonmembers the choice to opt out of the contribution funds. She writes, "When a public-sector union imposes a special assessment intended to fund solely political lobbying efforts, the First Amendment requires that the union provide non-members an opportunity to opt out of the contribution of funds".This is of major importance because Justice Sotomayor made a point to mention this opposed to the idea that unions should require that non-members have the choice to opt in to the funding.
The only two justices to dissent from the opinion were Justices Breyer and Kagan. In their opinion the union’s administrative system does not violate the Constitution and therefore allowed for those special assessments. However, Justice Alito made sure to address the dissent in his opinion stating there is no merit to Breyer’s and Sotomayor’s complaints. Obviously the rights of the workers’ and nonmembers prevailed in this case. This proves that nonmembers aren’t going to tolerate the union’s attempt to coerce them into giving money to a political agenda they do not support.