Public Employees Cannot be Required to Pay Fair Share Fees

06/29/2018 / Phyllis Karasov

In Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reversed a 1977 Supreme Court case, and held that it is a violation of the First Amendment for public sector employees to be forced to pay fair share fees if they have not given consent. On Wednesday, June 27, 2018 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Illinois state employee Mark Janus’ challenge of a 1977 Supreme Court case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. In Abood, the Supreme Court held that a state can require union-represented public sector employees who do not choose to belong to the union to pay a fair share fee to cover the cost of collective bargaining. Abood had also held that the fair share payers cannot be required to pay for a union’s political or ideological activities.

What are the Effects of This Decision?

It will result in significant financial loss for public sector labor unions, depriving unions of millions of dollars. In addition, it can be expected that anti-labor organizations, such as the Freedom Foundation, may lobby union members who pay full dues to save money and not pay dues.

Public sector labor unions will need to step up their efforts to show their workforce that having union representation is beneficial in improving their working conditions and wages. It can be expected that there will be significantly more grievances filed, and unions may become more militant in their dealings with public employers.

The decision does not apply to private sector workers. However, this decision may create more interest in federal or state right-to-work legislation that would cover private sector workers. As of today, 28 states have right-to-work laws in place.


This alert is provided as a service to our clients and firm associates. While the information provided in this publication is believed to be accurate, it is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice. 

Larkin Hoffman's employment law attorneys provide counsel and advice to businesses, public employers and other organizations about all aspects of the employment relationship. If you have any questions about this article, please contact Phyllis Karasov at (952) 896-1569 or [email protected].