Newsclips – June 22, 2012 Commemorating The Knox Decision – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation


U.S. SC rejects union’s argument

Legal, June 21, 2012         

W. James Young, who argued the case before the court on behalf of the petitioners, was very pleased by the Supreme Court’s judgment. Young is an attorney with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which provided free legal assistance to the petitioners.

“We are pleased that a plain majority of the justices of the court were persuaded by our arguments,” he said. “This was a broader based judgment that one would not have anticipated, given the ideological composition of the court.”

 National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Scores A Victory for California Nonmembers

Justices 7-2 Find Union Assessment Illegal; Majority Requires Nonmember Opt-In System

Daily Labor Report Online, June 21, 2012

 In a June 21 statement on the decision, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represented Dianne Knox and seven other named plaintiffs before the court, said the decision potentially affects as many as 36,000 nonmember California state government employees represented by Local 1000.

Funds from the special assessment the eight nonmember employees opposed were used to defeat four California ballot proposals, including one the foundation said “would have revoked public employee unions’ special privilege of using forced fees for politics unless an employee consents,” according to the statement.

The foundation’s president, Mark Mix, said in the statement that the decision “closed a giant loophole that allowed union bosses to confiscate money from workers’ paychecks for political spending sprees.”

Quote quibbles aside, teachers unions don’t look out for kids

Washington Examiner Online, June 22, 2012

Late last month, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney delivered an education speech in which he lambasted the policy agenda of teachers union officials. To help make his point, Romney cited a famous remark attributed to the late Al Shanker, former longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers.

In 1985, an editorial in the Meridian (Miss.) Star quoted Shanker: “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

Media “fact checkers” are now picking nits with Romney regarding the exact words Shanker used to acknowledge that the teachers union brass doesn’t protect the interests of schoolchildren.

The Star’s editorial did not furnish specific information about where or when the AFT union chief said this. Yet ever since the editorial was published, including many times before Shanker passed away 15 years ago, the quote has served as a pungent summary of what he thought about the role of union bosses wielding monopoly power to negotiate with school officials over teachers’ pay, benefits and work rules.

Evidently, it was not until May 2011 that there was any public challenge to the validity of Shanker’s notorious quote about schoolchildren and union dues. At that time, two researchers for a “think tank” that is named after Shanker, bankrolled in part by the AFT union hierarchy (using teachers’ and other employees’ forced union dues and fees), and located in the AFT’s D.C. headquarters protested former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s use of the quote in a magazine article. They insisted, 26 years after the fact, that the Mississippi newspaper’s sourcing was not “journalistically rigorous.” 

Stan Greer is newsletter editor at the National Right to Work Committee

Supreme Court Says Unions Can’t Bill Nonmembers For Political Spending

Forbes Magazine Online, June 21, 2012

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation cheered the decision, saying “the Court closed a giant loophole.”

“Workers should not be forced to subsidize union officials’ political spending, even for a short period of time,” said the organization, which supports laws against mandatory union membership or collective-bargaining dues. No comment yet on the SEIU website, but I’d love to hear their take.

Supreme Court sides with workers over SEIU power

Freedom, June 21, 2012        

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a major ruling in Knox v. SEIU. In 2005, SEIU imposed a special assessment on workers in California in order to fund its efforts against two ballot measures pushed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. The union hoped to raise $12 million from the assessment but failed to give workers an option about paying the extra money.

Supreme Court rules against union on nonmember fees for politics

Los Angeles Times Online, et al (This McClatchy-Tribune story (which names the NRTWC instead of the NRTWF) appeared in the Los Angeles Times, News & Observer, Waterbury Republican American, Bangor Daily News, The Republic, and Eau Claire,WI Leader-Telegraph). June 22, 2012

The National Right to Work Committee sued on behalf of Dianne Knox and a group of dissident employees, but lost before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision. Its judges agreed the union could offer refunds later.

But the Supreme Court disagreed by a 7-2 vote in Knox vs. SEIU. “Even a full refund would not undo the violation of 1st Amendment rights,” Alito said.

This SacBee front page story also appeared in or on the websites of the Modesto Bee, Centre Daily Times, Charlotte Observer, Mid Columbia Tri City Herald, Fresno Bee, Lexington Herald Leader, Anchorage Daily News, The Olympian, Kansas City Star, The State, San Luis Obispo Tribune, and Miami Herald.

SEIU Violated Rights of Nonpaying Dues Members, Supreme Court Says

Sacramento Bee Online, 6/22/2012

“This is an important victory for the rights of nonmember employees who are forced into union groups and into paying fees,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a nonprofit that handled the case for the plaintiffs.

Supreme Court rules against union on nonmember fees

Thomson Reuters News and Insight Online, June 21, 2012

The Supreme Court case is Knox v. Service Employees International Union, No. 10-1121.

For Knox:  W. James Young of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

By a 7-2 vote, the justices ruled for a group of California workers who sued to stop the 2.1-million-member Service Employees International Union from collecting extra money from those nonmembers who did not want to pay the fee.

U.S. Supreme Court Deals Defeat to Public-Sector Unions

Education Week Online, June 21, 2012

Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Springfield, Va.-based group that represented the non-union members who objected to the special assessment, said the decision “moves the ball forward” for his group’s objectives.

 “We don’t think employees should be forced to pay dues or fees at all,” Semmens said. “We wouldn’t have been surprised if the court had ruled more narrowly.”

 An Obamacare Hint

The Daily Beast Online, June 21, 2012

 Today’s holding in Knox v SEIU has unrecognized implications for the coming decision on the Affordable Care Act.

Ed Whelan at Bench Memos notes:

Court: Union must give fee increase notice

Associated Press,  June 21, 2012

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with the judgment but wrote their own opinion. “When a public-sector union imposes a special assessment intended to fund solely political lobbying efforts, the First Amendment requires that the union provide non-members an opportunity to opt out of the contribution of funds,” Sotomayor wrote.

Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan dissented from the opinion. “If the union’s basic administrative system does not violate the Constitution, then how could its special assessment have done so?” Breyer said. But Breyer said he agreed with Sotomayor on the court’s decision to expand the decision beyond special political assessments. “No party has asked that we do so,” he said. “The matter has not been fully argued in this court or in the courts below,” said Breyer, who read his dissent aloud.