The Rocky Mountain Employer


Labor & Employment Law Updates

Supreme Court Rules Against Unions In Battle Over Public Worker Fees

    This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states may not force public sector workers to contribute to labor unions when such workers choose not to join the unions.FN1 The 5-4 decision abolishes the so-called “fair share” fees, i.e., the requirement in over two-dozen states that public sector workers who decline to join a union must nevertheless pay a portion of dues to the union. FN2

    The Court ruled that the “fair share” laws violate the First Amendment by requiring public sector workers to fund unions they may disagree with. Justice Alito, writing for the majority of the Court, held that the agency fees improperly compel non-union members “to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”

    The most obvious effect of this decision is the expected financial hit public sector unions will take as a result of the loss of “fair share” fees.FN3 Although the Supreme Court’s ruling does not affect private-sector collective bargaining agreements, the decision gives private companies an indication of what might be a weakening of labor laws at the Supreme Court.FN4


FN1:   See Janus v. Am. Fed’n of State, County, and Mun. Employees, Council 31, 16-1466, 2018 WL 3129785 (U.S. June 27, 2018),

FN2:   The agency fees support representational work that the unions perform for both members and nonmembers, such as collective bargaining over labor contracts. Hassan A. Kanu, Supreme Court Kills Public Sector Union Fees, Bloomberg Law (June 27, 2018),

FN3:   Hassan A. Kanu, Unions, Blue States Scramble to Counter Janus Decision, Bloomberg Law (June 27, 2018),; see also Mark Sherman, U.S. Supreme Court deals big setback to labor unions: The 5-4 decision fulfills a longtime wish of conservatives to get rid of so-called fair share fees, Denver Post (June 27, 2018),

FN4:   James Langford, ‘This is war’: Labor unions fear Supreme Court will target private sector unions next, Washington Examiner (June 27, 2018),