TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that government workers cannot be forced to contribute to unions to help pay for collective bargaining. One justice said the ruling overthrows a decision entrenched in this nation's law for over 40 years.
"It's a real attack on the entire US labor movement," said University of Toledo Labor Law professor Joseph Slater.
That decision is causing some fear for unions as experts say they could see a 15-20% decline in revenue. It's being called a major blow to organized labor.
"Today the supreme court has shown that it is part of a rigged system that benefits the wealthiest Americans and no one else," said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
While the Supreme Court's decision against unions for nonmember fees was expected it will deeply affect about 5 million public union workers.
"The law continues to be that unions must fairly represent all members in their bargaining unit," said Joseph Slater, professor at the University of Toledo College of Law. "So that means that people in union bargaining agreements can refuse to pay dues but still get all the benefits of being a union member."
Joseph Slater is a labor law expert and expects several members to stop paying their union fees because of this decision. He says already labor unions have had to lay off workers, and it could be just the beginning.
"Some of the major unions have laid their staff members off in anticipation of this decision," said Slater. "It will make them weaker because they will have fewer resources both in terms of manpower and money."
Slater said by law the Supreme Court's ruling only impacts the public sector, but this will put pressure on the private sector as well. He expects there to be a lot of internal organizing as a result.
"What unions are going to have to do is make a case to their members like never before that they need the unions and they are worth the money," explained Slater.
Thursday a collective group of local public unions will unite to speak out on the Supreme Court's ruling and share how they will move forward with this new reality.
The event begins at 10 a.m. and will be at the Union Memorial Park on the corner of Elm and Champlain.