Government unions in the crosshairs in court case

The Supreme Court could revisit a 40-year-old precedent that allows government agencies to force public sector workers to pay union dues, an issue the court deadlocked on in 2016 following the sudden death of Antonin Scalia.

The National Right to Work Foundation will file two petitions on Tuesday with the high court challenging coercive dues schemes for government employees (Janus v. AFSCME), as well as monopoly bargaining rights for home health aides that receive Medicaid dollars (Hill v. SEIU). The suits seek to overturn Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a 1977 case that enabled government agencies to require the payment of union dues or fees as conditions of employment.

Bill Messenger, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation's lead attorney in both cases, told the Washington Free Beacon in an exclusive interview that the plaintiffs are petitioning the court to consolidate both cases, but, if given the chance, will ask to first consider Janus v. AFSCME before moving to Hill v. SEIU. Messenger said the plaintiffs are asking the court to resolve the question of "how far can you extend monopoly bargaining rights."

"It's the state's burden to justify infringing on a worker's association rights," he said. "The key is there's no difference between collectively bargaining with the government and lobbying the government. If you can't force people to pay to lobby the government, then you can’t force them to pay union dues or exclusively bargain with them."

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