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Unions are confronted with an existential threat

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Labour-saving devices

MARK JANUS could be making history this year. On February 26th the social worker from Illinois will be sitting with his two lawyers in the hallowed setting of the Supreme Court as the justices hear one hour of oral arguments in Janus v American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which asks whether public employees like himself, who choose not to join their designated union, may still be charged a compulsory “agency fee” to support collective bargaining. Mr Janus argues that the fee violates his First Amendment right to freedom of speech, because it forces him to subsidise an organisation whose bargaining position he rejects.

The court’s ruling in the case could determine the future of the labour movement. Though unionism has been in decline for decades, the public sector has remained a stronghold of organised labour. Eighty-four percent of workers today are employed in the private sector; only around 6%…Continue reading

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