The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a limited blow to public-sector unions when it ruled that thousands of home health-care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay union fees that help cover the cost of collective bargaining, the Associated Press reported.
The court’s 5-to-4 ruling in the case, Harris v. Quinn, No. 11-681, characterized those workers as “partial-public” employees who could not be forced to pay such fees, which are known as agency fees.
However, the ruling stopped short of overturning a precedent that lets states require “full-fledged” public employees to pay such union fees.
In a written statement on its website, the American Association of University Professors said that the court’s categorization of the workers in question as “partial-public” employees was likely to have “little applicability” to faculty members at public colleges.
“Because the ruling applied only to ‘partial-public employees,’ it is unlikely to have a significant impact on agency-fee jurisprudence applicable to faculty members at public institutions,” the AAUP’s statement said.
The AAUP asserted, however, that there were some “disturbing undercurrents” in the court’s decision, such as the majority’s questioning of the rationale behind a precedent-setting 1977 decision on agency fees.