Monday, July 16, 2012

Lost in the hype: A Supreme Court ruling on labor unionsand fees

Supreme Court of the United States

Dianne KNOX, et al., Petitioners

No. 10–1121.
Argued Jan. 10, 2012.
Decided June 21, 2012.
Background: Plaintiffs representing two classes of California nonunion state employees, those who objected to union's 2005 Hudson notice of fair share fees and those who did not, initiated action against local and international unions and comptroller of State of California, alleging that temporary assessment, i.e., mid-term dues and fee increase, imposed from September 2005 through December 2006 violated their First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under § 1983. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Morrison C. England, J., 2008 WL 850128, granted summary judgment to plaintiffs, and granted in part defendants' cross-motion for partial summary judgment. Defendants appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Thomas, Circuit Judge, 628 F.3d 1115, reversed and remanded. Certiorari was granted.

Holdings: The Supreme Court, Justice Alito, held that:
(1) case was not rendered moot when union sent out a notice offering a full refund to all class members;
(2) First Amendment required union to provide nonmembers with a fresh Hudson notice regarding its special assessment; and
(3) union violated First Amendment rights of objecting nonmembers by requiring them to pay 56.35% of the special assessment.

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