Mandatory Union Fees/Dues

The First Amendment is a legislation that was created that prohibits Congress from adopting laws regarding religious establishment. As a result, there was no restriction on the free exercise of religion, free speech, free press, and the right to congregate and petition the government for redress of people's grievances. (Russo) The law was enacted in the United States Constitution on December 15, 1971, and is one of the amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights. The concept of Mandatory Union Fees has been heavily criticized, with various groups opposing the levy. The argument has arisen that the idea of Mandatory union fees is a violation of the First Amendment hence the need to abolish the same.

Discussion and Explanation of the Issue Surrounding Mandatory Fees

Mandatory Union fees are payments made by members belonging to a union. The fees are essential since they help in running activities of the union. Individuals belonging to a particular union are mandated to pay the fees after joining the particular union. The different activities conducted by the union are funded out of the payments that are made by the members. The concept of mandatory union fees has been seen as an infringement of the right of people. It is perceived as a violation of the First Amendment since individuals are forced to be part of particular unions subjecting them to the need to pay the dues (Bravin).

The first issue presenting is a refusal by individuals to be forced to pay the Mandatory union fees. A petition by the California teachers is in response to the fact that the labor union is forcing them to pay the union fees. According to the teachers, the requirement to pay close to $970 as labor union fees is seen as being unfair (Liptak). Some of the teachers are of the opinion that they have the choice to do other things. Therefore, it would be unfair to subject them into paying the labor union fees since they should not be forced to join the same. The argument is that it is a violation of the First Amendment because since it can be portrayed as if the individuals are being forced to belong to a particular movement (Dawkins). The First Amendment prohibits Congress from creating a law which establishes the creation of a new religion, illegalizes the freedom of speech, assembly, and association. The California teachers are of the opinion that it is wrong to force them to pay the union fees.

The other side of the issue relates to the California law which identifies the need to have employees who wish not to join the unions to pay a certain percentage of service fee. The fees have been identified as the agency fee that is equal to member’s dues. The mandatory union fees are essential since it helps the Union to conduct their activities. Therefore, by having the individuals pay for membership, it would be seen as subjecting them into joining a group that they are not interested in. The fees are meant to enhance activities such as collective bargaining and lobbying activities. However, in viewing the issue, it could be seen that the California teachers are being subjected to pay the fees making it appear as if they forcefully being made to join a particular movement (Liptak). Consequently, concerns have been raised regarding the legality of the entire process of paying the dues considering the provisions of the First Amendment.

What I foresee will happen when the vacancy on the Court is filled.

The ruling of the Supreme Court had reached a deadlock of 4 to 4 after the death of Justice Scalia regarding the petition to have teachers be exempted from paying the Mandatory union fees. Indeed, Justice Scalia had made a strong stance against the labor unions for forcing their members to join them hence requiring the payment of the Mandatory union dues. Justice Scalia was one of the Supreme Court judges who was of the opinion that the labor unions were in violation of the First Amendment since it seemed they were forcing people to join them (Liptak). The United States Constitution prohibits the creation of a law that forces individuals to associate with a particular group. Therefore, the stance expressed by the late Justice Scalia and the four Supreme Court judges aimed at ensuring that public workers do not get to pay the mandatory fees since it is perceived as a reflection of a violation of the First Amendment. The death of Justice Scalia has had a significant impact on the entire case. The filling of the vacancy will be instrumental depending on the stance taken by the judge replacing Justice Scalia. As it is, the decision reached by the Supreme Court judges was a dreadlock of 4 to 4 since there was equality regarding whether or not the issue of Mandatory union fees should be scrapped off or upheld. If the vacancy is filled, significant changes are likely to be witnessed. However, all this would depend on the stance taken by the replacement.

The filling of the vacancy may lead to a repeal of the Mandatory fees. Justice Scalia had taken a position that would have seen the removal of the Mandatory fees to the reprieve of the public sector workers. The judge who will be hired to fill in the position is likely to follow precedent that had been set by Justice Scalia. If the judge takes the stance that was upheld by Justice Scalia, then it means that the Mandatory fees will be scrapped off. The workers will not be subjected into to pay the required fees provided they decide not to join the union. It is critical to acknowledge that the filling of the vacancy will result in a fundamental change in the decision. It is likely that the deadlock will be broken and the ruling made will be 5 to 4 in favor of the petitioner. It is expected that the majority of the judges will decide to outlaw the requirement to have the workers’ pay the dues to the labor unions. Therefore, employees in the public sector will have the option of not joining the union hence exempting them from paying any fees. However, it is equally essential to understand that the replacement is at liberty to make their personal judgment. The decision by the Supreme Court can go either way depending on the vote made by the new replacement. Nevertheless, as it stands, if the vacancy is filled, the incoming judge could vote to make the mandatory fees illegitimate since it could be viewed as a violation of the First Amendment.

The Impact of the Decision on Employees

Employees have the fundamental right to decide on whether or not they can join a given union. The establishment of the First Amendment makes it possible for the individuals to take a decision on the unions that they would wish to join. Because of the same, it is critical that unions should allow workers to make a choice since the constitution provides them with the right. In the case depicted, the decision to have the mandatory union dues being removed would mean that employees opt out of such organizations. Those who decide to join the union will be aware of the need to make the payment since they are members of the union. However, it is critical to evaluate the impact of such a decision on employees at large.

The first impact regards the concept of an impediment to the union’s activities. For example, the unions have been mandated with the duty of ensuring that they agitate for the rights of workers. The ability to do so depends on the availability of finances. A significant proportion of these finances is derived from contributions that have been made by the union members. Therefore, if the mandatory dues are removed, it means that the union’s activities would be significantly affected. The labor organizations that workers are members may not be in a better position to execute their activities because of lack of adequate finances. As cited initially, the unions have been essential in ensuring that activities such as collective bargaining agreements will be affected (Liptak). This is in addition to the lobbying activities that are executed by the labor unions. The employees are likely to miss the services that are provided by the unions.

Further, the exemption of the employees from making such mandatory dues would mean that they do not have to be affiliated to any of the unions. The decision to have employees be exempted from the fees is a reflection of the fact that they are willing to represent themselves in agitating for their rights. It is critical to acknowledge that a significant percentage of workers had stood out identifying that the First Amendment was being violated. It could, however, set precedence for the oppression of workers since the labor unions would not be mandated to agitate for the employees’ rights. Therefore, it is critical to acknowledge that the decision is leading to the replacement of the late Justice Scalia with another judge who would probably vote in favor of removal of the mandatory fees in response to the fact that it is a violation of the First Amendment. Because of the same, it is critical to evaluate the impact of lack of failure to pay the fees and what it would mean to the employees. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that some of the employees who still believe in the work conducted by the labor unions will still have to pay the fees by virtue of being members.


Overall, the filling of the vacancy created by Justice Scalia may have significant effects regarding the petition to remove the mandatory dues. Initially, the vote made by the judges resulted in a deadlock. However, if a replacement is done, the chances are that employees will not have to pay for the mandatory fees since it could be seen as a violation of the First Amendment. Regardless of the same, it is critical to evaluate the options and ascertain the impact of the decision on all workers.

Works Cited

Bravin, Jess. “Supreme Court Split Shields Compulsory Public Union Dues in More Than 20 States.” The Wall Street Journal 2016. Web.

Dawkins, Cedric. “Labored Relations: Corporate Citizenship, Labor Unions, and Freedom of Association.” Business Ethics Quarterly. N.p., 2012. Web.

Liptak, Adam. "Mandatory Union Fees Getting Hard Look By Supreme Court". N.p., 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

Russo, Charles J. “Supreme Court Update: Unions, Fair Share Agreements and the First Amendment.” Education and the Law 19.3 (2007): 8. Web.

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