The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision Wednesday that public employee unions cannot charge nonmembers fees or dues, overruling a 41-year-old precedent, the Los Angeles Times reports. The decision in Janus v. AFSCME is a massive blow to public-sector unions and organized labor; it voids laws in 20 states including California and New York, in which all public employees were required to pay "fair share fees" to cover collective bargaining.
"We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion. In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the court's decision will have "large-scale consequences. Public employee unions will lose a secure source of financial support. State and local governments that thought fair-share provisions furthered their interests will need to find new ways of managing their workforces. Across the country, the relationships of public employees and employers will alter in both predictable and wholly unexpected ways."
An estimated 5 million public employees are affected by the decision.