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.