Major Win for Unions in Supreme Court Split

By Adam Liptak, New York Times

A case that seemed poised to deal a major blow to public unions ended in a 4-4 tie on Tuesday at the Supreme Court, effectively delivering a big victory to the unions.

When the case was argued in January, the court’s conservative majority seemed ready to say that forcing public workers to support unions they had declined to join violates the First Amendment.

But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February changed the balance of power in the case, which was brought by California public schoolteachers who chose not to join unions and objected to paying for the unions’ collective bargaining activities on their behalf.

A ruling in the teachers’ favor would have affected millions of government workers and weakened public-sector unions, which stood to lose fees from both workers who objected to the positions the unions take and those who simply chose not to join while benefiting from the unions’ efforts on their behalf.



Under California law, public employees who choose not to join unions must pay a “fair share service fee,” also known as an “agency fee,” typically equivalent to members’ dues. The fees, the law says, are meant to pay for collective bargaining activities, including “the cost of lobbying activities.” More than 20 states have similar laws.

Government workers who are not members of unions have long been able to obtain refunds for the political activities of unions like campaign spending. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915, asked whether such workers must continue to pay for any union activities, including negotiating for better wages and benefits. A majority of the justices seemed inclined to say no.

Relying on a 1977 Supreme Court precedent, the appeals court in the case upheld the requirement that the objecting teachers pay fees. Tuesday’s announcement, saying only that “the judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court,” affirmed that ruling and set no new precedent.

To learn more about the case, check out the infographic here.

*This story taken from the New York Times*



NC Primary results

The North Carolina primaries on Tuesday  gave leading campaigns an edge, but dealt a blow to those looking for a big win.  Hillary Clinton led in the Democratic race for the Presidency, garnering 54.6% of the vote, to rival Bernie Sanders’ 40.8%. Donald Trump squeaked by his Republican competition in the state as well, with 40.2% of the vote. The next leading Republican candidate for president in the state was Ted Cruz, with a close 36.8% .

For the US Senate race, Deborah Ross easily beat her Democratic challengers in the primary race with greater than 60% of the vote. She will challenge incumbent Republican Richard Burr for  North Carolina’s senate seat in the US Congress in November. Current  North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will also face Incumbent Republican Pat McCrory in the Gubernatorial race, running as a Democrat. The AFL-CIO has endorsed both Deborah Ross for Senate, and Roy Cooper for governor.


IBEW 553 Membership Votes For New Union Hall



At a special IBEW Local 553 membership meeting on February 19th, 2016, major impacts to the lifeblood of our union were voted on for the year 2016. The membership of our local voted to sell our current property in favor of moving to a bigger and better hall. The current building off of U.S. 70 in Durham has been occupied by IBEW Local 553 since 1976, and this location has served us well for over 40 years. However, it has become painfully obvious that not only are we maxed out on office space, but our building is outdated and in need of extensive remodeling and renovation. The costs of these projects would likely exceed the value of the property.

Our building committee has been working to tackle these problems for many months, and their efforts have led to the only logical conclusion: it is time to move if we are to continue to adequately serve our jurisdiction. Since early December of 2015, our Local has received letters of interest from two companies, stating a desire to procure the property. As prime real estate just off of US 70, a busy local thoroughfare, several businesses had been eyeing this land for the last few years. After receiving an offer more than three times the assessed property value, the property will be sold to TRL LLC, owners of multiple Zaxby’s eateries in the Raleigh-Durham area.

In order to continue our growth as a local, the membership decided it was in the best interest of our union to to sell the property and find a newer, larger space that can accommodate all our members and the apprenticeship program, as well as a safe, clean, and modern location for our office staff. A new building will ensure that we are prepared to tackle the increasing amount of work in the Triangle and eastern North Carolina and provide a hall that our union members can be proud to call home. We expect to have acquired a new location within 6 to 9 months, and will update our address and contact info accordingly. As we look towards the final sunset of our old,venerable Union Hall, we can all revel in the glories that are sure to come in a new era for our local union.