High Court Turns Away Mandatory Union Dues Case

November 12, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A group of grocery chain workers lost its bid for US Supreme Court review of a decision forcing them to fund union organizing activities in grocery markets other than their own.

The case turned away by the high court stems from a government decision to force workers for grocery store chains in California, Colorado, and Michigan to pay for union activities in other areas, according to an Associated Press report.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that it was permissible to force the union payments because workers benefit when salaries rise anywhere in their industry and not just in their home store, the AP said.

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The US 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed and attorneys for the workers asked the US Supreme Court to consider the case, the AP said.

Workers in 28 states can be forced to pay some dues, whether or not they join the union, under agreements negotiated with companies. The other 22 states have restrictions under right-to-work laws.

The Supreme Court has limited the union agreements to protect the nonmembers’ free speech and free-association rights. Workers cannot be forced to be full members, pay full dues or support a union’s political activities, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The nonunion employees can be required to pay for a union’s collective bargaining work, however, so long as the money isn’t spent on political and ideological purposes, the AP said.

The issue has put the Bush administration at odds with the business community. The administration defended the mandatory dues and pressed the court to stay out of a fight that involved grocery workers but could also affect millions of other employees.