Compulsory Agency Fees Cannot Be Collected from Non-Union Members

Janus v. AFSCME Council 31
United States Supreme Court No. 16-1466,
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

In this case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the compulsory payment of so-called “agency fee” or “fair share” payments by public sector bargaining unit members who have elected not to pay union dues. Under Illinois law   governing public sector union employment, employees who decline to join a union are not assessed full union dues but must instead pay what is generally called an “agency fee,” which amounts to a percentage of the union dues.  A non-union member complained that all nonmember fee deductions are coerced political speech and that the First Amendment forbids coercing any money from non­members.

Overruling Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), the Court concluded that States and public sector unions may no longer deduct agency fees from nonconsenting employees. Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. By agreeing to pay, nonmembers are waiving their

First Amendment rights, and such a waiver cannot be presumed.

As a result of this ruling, all collective bargaining agreement provisions that require employees to make these payments are void. In addition, any forms executed by employees authorizing their employer to withhold agency fee amounts are no longer valid. In order to comply with this Court decision, public employers should immediately discontinue the collection of agency or fair share payments. 

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