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UT labor law expert: Supreme Court sent ‘seismic wave’ that will ‘hurt unions’

Joseph Slater, a labor law professor at The University of Toledo and expert on public employee unions, released this analysis about the Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday, June 27:

“Today in the Janus decision, the Supreme Court sent a seismic wave at the American labor movement, overturning a 41-year-old precedent and holding that union security clauses – provisions in union contracts that require members of union bargaining units to pay for the costs of representing them in contract negotiations and grievances – violate the First Amendment. Because labor law creates a legal obligation for unions to represent members of bargaining units regardless of whether they pay dues or not, this decision practically will create huge financial problems for public sector unions, as they will now have to support ‘free riders.’ Because public employees make up nearly half of all union members in the U.S., this will also have a destructive effect on the labor movement as a whole.  The 5-4 decision also raises more questions than it answers about the free speech rights of individual public employees.”

“Ohio is one of the states in which this decision will have the most effect. About half the states are already ‘right to work’ states, so, for example, in most of the south and in the plain states, this decision won’t make a difference. But in states that currently authorize union security clauses – Ohio, New York, California, the west and eastern coastal states – this will make a big difference, and really hurt unions.”

Please contact Christine Billau at or 419.530.2077 to connect for further comment with Slater, the Eugene N. Balk Professor of Law and Values at UT.

is UT's Media Relations Specialist. Contact her at 419.530.2077 or
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