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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner Announces Executive Order Eliminating Forced Union Dues for Public Employees for Freedom of Choice

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Bruce Rauner today signed Executive Order 15-13 eliminating unfair share dues for state employees who do not wish to fund government union activities and positions with which they may disagree.
The governor’s actions come after an extensive legal review of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Harris v. Quinn. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act violated the First Amendment by forcing certain state employees to involuntarily pay fees to a labor union.

In light of that decision, the Rauner administration has concluded that the so-called “fair share” provisions of the current collective bargaining agreements, that are similar to those invalidated by the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn, are also unconstitutional.

“Forced union dues are a critical cog in the corrupt bargain that is crushing taxpayers. Government union bargaining and government union political activity are inexorably linked,” Governor Rauner said. “An employee who is forced to pay unfair share dues is being forced to fund political activity with which they disagree. That is a clear violation of First Amendment rights – and something that, as governor, I am duty-bound to correct.”

The executive order allows state employees who wish not to support government unions’ activities to stop paying the forced fees. It has no impact on those employees who wish to remain paying members of the union and fund union activities out of their paychecks.
Additional Background:
·         The federal government prohibited the forced collection of union dues in 1978 as part of the Civil Service Reform Act signed by President Jimmy Carter. That law passed the U.S. Senate 87-1 and the U.S. House of Representatives 365-8. Illinois Senator Charles Percy was one of the co-sponsors.
·         29 other states have laws that prohibit government entities from forcing public workers join or financially support labor organizations that they do not support.
·         While Harris v. Quinn only decided the constitutional issue as it relates to a subset of Illinois state employees (home care workers), the Supreme Court’s majority opinion found that much of the landmark case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education was ”questionable on several grounds.”
·         Notably, the Supreme Court said in Harris v. Quinn:

o   “Abood failed to appreciate the conceptual difficulty of distinguishing in public-sector cases between union expenditures that are made for collective-bargaining purposes and those that are made to achieve political ends. In the private sector, the line is easier to see. Collective bargaining concerns the union's dealings with the employer; political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government. But in the public sector, both collective-bargaining and political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government.”

o   “Abood failed to appreciate the difference between the core union speech involuntarily subsidized by dissenting public-sector employees and the core union speech involuntarily funded by their counterparts in the private sector. In the public sector, core issues such as wages, pensions, and benefits are important political issues, but that is generally not so in the private sector. In the years since Abood, as state and local expenditures on employee wages and benefits have mushroomed, the importance of the difference between bargaining in the public and private sectors has been driven home.”

§  “Recent experience has borne out this concern. See DiSalvo, The Trouble with Public Sector Unions, National Affairs No. 5, p. 15 (2010) ( ‘In Illinois, for example, public-sector unions have helped create a situation in which the state's pension funds report a liability of more than $100 billion, at least 50% of it unfunded’).”
o   “A union's status as exclusive bargaining agent and the right to collect an agency fee from non-members are not inextricably linked. For example, employees in some federal agencies may choose a union to serve as the exclusive bargaining agent for the unit, but no employee is required to join the union or to pay any union fee. Under federal law, in agencies in which unionization is permitted, 'each employee shall have the right to form, join, or assist any labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right.’”
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