Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that agency fee charges to public sector labor unions violate the Constitution. On a 5-4 vote, the justices overturned a 1977 Supreme Court precedent that had allowed the so-called agency fees or “fair share” fees that are collected from millions of non-union workers in lieu of union dues to fund non-political activities like collective bargaining.
In light of this ruling, we are recommending that all government clients immediately cease collecting illegal “fair share” fees and explore all available remedies to recover illegally collected fees. Most collective bargaining agreement provisions calling for these fees have an indemnification provision. These provisions were aimed at erroneous calculation of the amount of the “fair share” fee but might well be broad enough to sustain a claim to recover the fees entirely when they have been ruled illegal by the Supreme Court. All government employers with collective bargaining agreements should immediately check them for the presence of agency shop or “fair share” fees and review the language of the provisions.
This article is not legal advice but should be considered as general guidance in the area of employment and corporate law. Rebecca S. Webber, Bryan M. Dench, Amy Dieterich , James F. Pross and Jordan Payne Hay, are employment and labor law attorneys; others at the firm handle business and other matters. You can contact us at 207.784.3200. Skelton Taintor & Abbott is a full service law firm providing legal services to individuals, companies, and municipalities throughout Maine. It has been in operation since its founding in 1853.