In an unexpectedly short and swift ruling that issued today, the United States Supreme Court preserved the right of public sector labor unions to collect fair share fees. In a one-sentence, 4-4 ruling, the Court left in place a 9th Circuit ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association that relied on the 1979 Supreme Court decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which approved fair share fees.
This means that unions will still be able to make non-members contribute to the cost of negotiating better wages and benefits.
The ghost in the room was recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, who would have been the deciding vote to overturn Abood and outlaw fair share fees.
The reality is that this issue will probably be decided by the November election. A Republican victory is likely to see a Supreme Court nominee opposed to Abood and vice-versa if there is a Democratic win.
For now, public sector labor unions that collect fair share fees would be wise not to completely disregard the possibility of additional litigation over this issue.