High court dispute over union fees could curb labor’s clout

The nation’s public employee unions are bracing for a drop in membership and bargaining power if the Supreme Court rules against organized labor in a dispute over union fees.

The Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a challenge from a group of California teachers who claim that mandatory fees imposed on those who choose not to join the union violates their free speech rights.

The teachers — backed by a conservative group — want the high court to overturn a 39-year-old precedent allowing the fees to cover collective bargaining costs as long as they don’t go for political purposes. Public workers in about half the states are required to pay “fair share” fees if they are represented by a union, even if they are not members.

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