Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Supreme Court to Review Washington Law re Union Political Action

The U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in two cases from the Washington Supreme Court that overturned a state law that restricts unions' use of nonmembers' fees for political purposes. Supreme Court Jumps Into Dispute Over Labor Union Fees Used for Political Causes, (AP), Sept. 27, 2006. Here's the legal context: People who don't belong to a union but are in an "agency shop" may be required to pay fees to the union to support negotiations that affect them, but their fees can't be required to support the union's political action. The question here is whether they have to object to the union's use of their fees for political purposes or if the union can be required to have them opt in.

The cases are:

Davenport v. Washington Education Assocation, No. 05-1589
Washington v. Washington Education Association, No. 05-1657

The opinion below is State ex rel. Public Disclosure Comm'n v. Washington Education Ass'n, 156 Wash. 2d 543, 130 P.3d 352, Westlaw link, Findlaw link (majority), Findlaw link (dissent) (March 16, 2006). The Washington Supreme Court (Ireland, J.) held that RCW 42.17.760 was unconstitutional. Justice Sanders dissented (joined by Chief Justice Alexander and Justice Fairhurst).


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