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U.S. Supreme Court overturns precedent-setting Michigan union case

The U.S. Supreme Court building
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a precedent-setting 1977 decision Wednesday.

The case,  Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, was a Michigan case that stipulated public sector employees who opt out of a union are still required to pay partial dues to cover the union's cost of negotiation and other operations.

As NPR explains, "In 1977, the Supreme Court had drawn a distinction between such mandatory 'agency fees' and other, voluntary union dues, which might be used for lobbying or other political activity. Wednesday's decision erases that distinction. The court's conservative wing found that negotiations by public sector unions are inherently political and nonmembers cannot be compelled to pay for them."

Michigan unions and Democratic representatives quickly expressed their disagreement with the decision.

MI-AFSCME branch President Lawrence Roehrig said in a statement, "The Supreme Court issued a decision today that further rigs the rules of the economy against working families and in favor of the big-moneyed special interests that are tearing apart the middle class. However, no court case can stop our movement."

UAW President Gary Jones said the decision is "yet another effort to put obstacles in front of working men and women to join collectively behind the power of a unified voice," while AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber added that "we have faced these attacks before and we have weathered the storm well."

Rep. Debbie Dingell called the decision "deeply disturbing" and called on Congress to act.

Others, like Attorney General Bill Schuette, praised the decision. Schuette said in a statement, "First Amendment rights have once again prevailed in America."

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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