Court Slaps Gov. Union Overreach, Leaves Paycheck Protection in State Hands

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: 717-671-1901

Supreme Court Slaps Government Union Overreach

Bolsters Argument for Paycheck Protection  

June 30, 2014, Harrisburg, Pa—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court reined in government union leaders and freed certain government employees from overreach. A majority of Justices agreed in Harris v. Quinn that home care workers in Illinois cannot be forced to pay a public union.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, wrote, “Agency-fee provisions unquestionably impose a heavy burden on the First Amendment interests of objecting employees.”

“The Court’s acknowledgement of government union overreach and the free speech rights of employees and taxpayers should give Pennsylvania lawmakers the backing they need to pass paycheck protection and end the use of taxpayer resources to collect union political money,” said Commonwealth Foundation President Matthew J. Brouillette. He added, “Today, Pennsylvania lawmakers can follow the Court’s lead, do what is right and end the unfair practice of using taxpayer dollars to subsidize union political speech.”

Currently, government union executives rely on the public payroll system to collect dues, fees, and campaign contributions from members.  Much of that money is spent opposing taxpayers’ interests such as pension reform, liquor privatization, and lower taxes.  And it is often spent against the very interests of union members themselves.

“Government union leaders can fight for higher taxes and special financial benefits all they want, but they shouldn’t be able to do so with taxpayer subsidies.  They should have to collect their political money like everyone else—directly from their members,” said Brouillette.

Both the Senate and House State Government Committees, last week, passed amended versions of paycheck protection. Final passage of the legislation would eliminate the use of taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect political money from government employees’ paychecks.

Brouillette continued:

 “Teachers and other public employees have no way to hold their union executives accountable for how they spend dues and political money when this money is automatically deducted from their paychecks. Paycheck protection would give those teachers and other public employees a stronger voice in where their hard-earned money goes. Only Pennsylvania lawmakers can right this wrong, so we call on them follow the Court’s lead in setting boundaries for government union executives by passing paycheck protection today.” 

Matthew Brouillette and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available to discuss the impact of today’s Supreme Court decision on government unions and why paycheck protection remains a critical reform.

Visit for background on government unions’ political spending in Pennsylvania.

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For more information, please contact our director of media relations for the Commonwealth Foundation at 717-671-1901 or [email protected].

The Commonwealth Foundation, founded in 1988, crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.