- - Thursday, February 4, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Unions nationwide are in distress, and millennials, who make up the largest portion of the American workforce by age, aren’t exactly worried.

Millennials just flat-out aren’t interested in joining unions, unlike their Baby Boomer and Generation X parents, who previously joined in large numbers.

In 2014 and 2015, union membership hit 100-year lows, with only 4 percent of workers aged 16 to 24 deciding to join.

And, the upcoming Supreme Court decision in Friederichs v. California Teachers Association will likely deliver an additional blow to already suffering unions, further weakening their financial and bargaining powers.

The case involves a group of teachers who sued a large and well-known public-sector union, arguing that their First Amendment rights had been violated.

How? Well, for years, unions in California have been allowed to become the exclusive bargaining representatives for public school employees by simply showing that the majority of employees wished to be represented by the union.

However, if an employee doesn’t join the union, they are still forced to pay a “fair share service fee,” which is oftentimes not much less than the union membership fee.

Then, the unions use a portion of this “fair share service fees” for collective bargaining activities, and the remaining portion, titled the “non-chargeable” fee, is used for non-collective bargaining endeavors, such as political lobbying and campaign spending.

Now, this “non-chargeable” portion of the fee may be returned, but only if it is requested.

Sharp-eyed millennials see this as a backdoor union tax — one that can be used by the union to support candidates they do not like and fund issues with which they do not agree.

The plaintiffs are not happy and many of the Supreme Court justices appear to agree, including Justice Anthony Kennedy, the frequent swing voter of the court.

During last month’s oral arguments, Justice Kennedy expressed much sympathy for the plaintiffs.

“The union is basically making the teachers ‘compelled-riders’ on issues with which they strongly disagree,” Mr. Kennedy said.

The decision in this case will be historic, effectively making or breaking the future power, wealth and existence of unions in America.

With the court likely to rule in favor of the plaintiffs, the rights of Americans will be protected and non-union millennials will potentially save thousands of dollars of hard-earned money from being spent by unions on political and campaign activities.

The decision is expected to be released in June.

Madison Gesiotto is a staff editor for the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. The author’s views are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law.

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