LIMA — Local union leaders are looking to continue business as usual despite a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that has changed how public unions collect fees from non-union members.
The 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court argues that mandatory collective bargaining fees paid by non-union members is a violation of First Amendment rights because the fees force individuals to support political campaigns that may not agree with.
Lima Education Association (LEA) Co-President Ernest Daugherty said the exact local effects won’t be known until the fall when teachers return to work and decide whether they will join the LEA. Until then, Daugherty said union leadership will redouble their efforts to explain the benefits of membership and the importance of paying into the union coffers.
Union advocates argue that a case heard in 1977, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, had already forced a distinction between forcing nonmembers to pay for political activities and for collective bargaining initiatives. That case ensured funds spent on political activities were refunded.
But Wednesday’s decision overthrows Abood altogether.
“Right now, it’s hard to determine how hard it’s going to hit the membership,” Daugherty said. “If you look at Wisconsin — or Act 10 that did away with fair share — teacher unions saw a 30 percent reduction in membership. Here in Ohio, we’re really driving hard the importance of being a member of the National Education Association (NEA), Ohio Education Association and local association,” Daugherty said.
Daugherty acts as co-president of the LEA alongside Miriam Downing. He said only two or three individuals who qualify to pay collective bargaining fees opt out of membership.
“Locally, there isn’t going to be a lot of change,” Daugherty said.
West Central Ohio Labor Council–AFL-CIO President Jeffery Kranz, said despite the ruling, unions will go on with business as usual, fighting for higher wages, better working conditions and safety.
“We will do what we always do. We will continue to fight to protect working people across the state and across the country,” Kranz said.
The brunt of the decision will most likely be felt by state and federal unions, many of whom support political candidates through campaign contributions. The end result is potentially less money spent in Democratic campaigns, an issue celebrated by President Donald Trump in a tweet following Wednesday morning’s decision.
“Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union worker who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!” Trump tweeted.
“I think this goes to the greater thing where we see corporate special interests and folks who don’t believe in worker rights have kind of manipulated the system,” Kranz said. “And in this point in time, they have succeeded with the courts to do their bidding, but we in labor are undeterred by that.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.