National education and labor news

Trump administration sides with union foes

The Trump administration sought to undermine public-sector labor unions with a brief submitted on Dec. 6 in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The Office of the Solicitor General, which represents the government in Supreme Court cases, argued in the brief that agency or fair-share fees were unconstitutional and asked the court to overrule 40 years of legal precedent to ban them. Unions collect these fees from nonmembers to cover the costs incurred representing them. Since public-sector unions are legally obligated to represent these nonmember workers, the right-wing forces bankrolling the legal challenge to fair-share fees intend to force unions to bear those costs on their own.

This is the first time the Office of the Solicitor General involved itself in Janus v. AFSCME but, during the administration of President Barack Obama, the office argued that public-employee fair-share fees were legal in a nearly identical case: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. 

The court brief is the latest in a series of moves by the Trump administration to roll back worker power, including the appointment of pro-management board members to the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces U.S. labor law governing private-sector unions. Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, is expected to swing the court’s opinion against unions and the workers they represent in the Janus case.

Politico, Dec. 6
The Washington Post, Dec. 6

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