Insight With Beth Ruyak

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Calif. Unions Bracing For Supreme Court Ruling

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California public employee unions are already preparing for a U-S Supreme Court ruling that would strike down a significant revenue source: partial dues from state and local government employees who choose not to become union members.

UC Berkeley Labor Center director Ken Jacobs says unions began efforts even before Monday's oral arguments suggested the court would prohibit such “fair share fees.”

"Signing up workers as full members and really going out and educating their membership about what this case is about and how declining membership could hurt their members, in terms of wages and benefits and working conditions," says Jacobs.

Jacobs spoke on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight with Beth Ruyak.” Assembly Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon said this week that the California Legislature could consider taking action later this year if the Supreme Court strikes down fair share fees – though he did not elaborate on what lawmakers might propose.

-Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard a single argument instead of the usual two. The case? Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Ten California teachers say they have a First Amendment right not to pay fees to a union. The union says they’re wrong, and so does the State of California and the Federal Government. If justices side with the CTA – and California and the feds – it will be business as usual for the union. If the court should rule in favor of the teachers, the outcome for the CTA – and all other public-sector unions – could start to look much differently. Joining us to talk about how unions might fare in the near future is Ken Jacobs, Chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

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