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Union dues from non-union workers upheld as Supreme Court deadlocks

By Ed Adamczyk
Union dues from non-union workers upheld as Supreme Court deadlocks
Activists rallied outside the Supreme Court as the justices heard arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, in Washington, D.C. on January 11, 2016. The Court, in a tie vote Tuesday, upheld the right of 23 states to compel public employees, such as public school teachers, to pay union dues. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) -- A tie vote in the U.S. Supreme Court, announced Tuesday, preserves a California law permitting public employee unions to compel non-union employees to pay dues.

The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, is based on a 1977 lower court ruling that permitted unions to collect dues from non-members, reasoning that collective bargaining benefits all members. California is one of 23 states to require that dues be paid to public employee unions, whether or not an employee has joined the union. The suit was brought by an Orange County, Calif., teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs, who contended that her freedom of speech was violated when she was compelled to underwrite a union she opposed.

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California teachers who do not belong to the union pay up to $400 of the approximately $1,000 paid by union members in state and local dues.

The tie vote preserves the ruling of the lower court.

"The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court," the Supreme Court said in its announcement Tuesday.

The tie vote indicates that the court's conservative-leaning members, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, failed to assemble a majority to rule in their favor.

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The decision was welcomed by the 3-million-member National Education Association, the largest union in the United States.

"The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a political ploy to silence public employees like teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, higher education faculty and other educators to work together to shape their profession," NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said.

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