Alabama Construction News

JUL-SEP 2018

Alabama Construction News is the states only bimonthly magazine dedicated to the commercial construction industry.

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35 JUL–SEP 2018 AL CONSTRUCTION NEWS IN JUNE, THE SUPREME COURT DEALT A MAJOR BLOW TO UNIONS with a 5-4 ruling that declares state government workers cannot be forced to pay the "fair share" fees to support collective bargaining and other union undertakings. "This is the biggest ruling on labor unions in my lifetime, as it is of that magnitude," said Jim Cooper of Cooper Construction. "Unions have terrorized our nation for 100 years. So this is a huge ruling. There are more layers to go, but this is a real victory for the United States Constitution because constitutional law would never accept such nonsense. A true constitutionalist would not tolerate what the unions have been doing, and that's why this ruling is so powerful. It shows the stance of the Court on fundamental issues." The case focused on non-members being required to pay union fees. In the ruling, conservative majority explained that a union's contract negotiations over pay and benefits were linked with its broader political activities. Thus, they determined that workers did not have enough constitution right not to underwrite the union's "speech." "This procedure violates the First Amendment and cannot continue," wrote Associate Justice Samuel Alito in the majority opinion. "Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a non-member's wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay." The unions estimate that five million government employees in 24 states and D.C. will be affected by the ruling. While this current case applies only to public-sector employees, the ruling has a significant impact on the general labor union movement in the United States, noted Maury Baskin of Littler Mendelson, P.C. "The Janus decision potentially extends beyond public sector employment because it invokes First Amendment principles that apply equally to private employees and businesses," said Baskin. "It remains to be seen how the decision is interpreted by other courts, but the Court's holding should protect both public and private employees and businesses from being compelled by any government agency to subsidize or endorse union activity that they disagree with." This ruling particularly has great significance on the construction industry, added Cooper, as unions utilize much of the money at their disposal to fund political action committees (PACs). "With unions, it's all about dues because that's where they get their money; that's their lifeline," Cooper explained. "So for our industry, when construction workers aren't required to pay these dues, it's a big deal. People will flee from having to pay these dues when they aren't required to. This is going to be a tough ruling for unions to recover from." S U P R E M E C O U R T G I V E S M A J O R B L O W TO U N I O N S

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