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Local Governments and School Districts Blog

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case filed by several teachers in California that were seeking to eliminate the requirement of paying fair share dues to the California Teachers Association.  The case centered around the free speech rights of the teachers and the argument that the payment of fair share dues should not be required of a public employee even if the amount of the fair share dues is limited to the costs related to collective bargaining and contract administration.  The teachers were arguing that any payment of mandatory dues to a public sector employee union constituted an impermissible restraint on the free speech rights of the public employee because the mandatory dues payment becomes, in essence, an endorsement of the union activities and union membership.

For many Wisconsin public employers, this case will not have a significant impact.  Some public employers still negotiate with police and fire unions as well as transit unions.  A requirement of paying fair share dues by members of these unions could be stricken by this Supreme Court decision as an unlawful restriction on the free speech rights of the public employees.  It is not likely that many public employees will argue for discontinuance of fair share dues payments but the ruling may make it illegal for a public sector employer to deduct fair share dues from any employee paycheck.  This may result in some additional weakening of public sector unions.

It will be several months before the U.S. Supreme Court renders its decision on this matter.  Many commentators felt that the justices indicated support for the position of the public employees based upon the questions asked and the statements made by the justices during oral argument.  We will have to wait several months to see what the future of fair share dues is.