High court strikes blow for public workers’ rights

We are intrigued by a recent Supreme Court that said thousands of home health care workers in the state of Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover a union’s costs of collective bargaining.

The justices, in a 5-4 vote, said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take.

While this ruling pertains to “partial public employees”, we wonder if it can be used as the conduit to break down the practice of unions, particularly public employee ones, using union dues to do things beyond the wishes of many of the members.

In Pennsylvania, there is legislation being discussed that would end the practice of public union dues being used for political purposes such as campaign advertising.

Our hope would be that our state lawmakers are paying attention to the Illinois ruling and taking it as a push in the direction of union members dues being used specifically for the purpose of the unions. That is, using the dues to collectively bargain for benefits and working conditions that the members favor.

It doesn’t mean using the dues for political purposes.

It doesn’t mean using the dues to push for changes in Medicaid payments, as was done in Illinois.

The justices stopped short of overturning a 1977 Supreme Court ruling that held public employees who choose not to join a union still can be required to pay representation fees.

But we like the general direction the ruling takes.