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Read: the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Janus v. AFSCME

The implications of the decision could be huge.

Pro union protesters rally in front of the US Supreme Court building January 11, 2016
Pro-union protesters rally in front of the US Supreme Court building January 11, 2016
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court has ruled that public sector unions cannot charge fees to employees who decline to join a union but are covered by its collective bargaining agreement. In a 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the court ruled the fees are unconstitutional, a blow to labor unions in the United States.

Twenty-eight states already ban agency fees, but the 22 states that do not are bastions of union membership, including Ohio, California, and Pennsylvania.

Pro-union advocates have argued that under “right-to-work” laws, nonunion members are reaping the benefits of progress that unions achieve without paying anything in return, resulting in lower membership rates and less influence, Vox’s Dylan Matthews wrote. Meanwhile, anti-union advocates argued that required agency fees violate First Amendment rights by forcing workers to support a political organization regardless of whether they support the cause. Agency fees are fees nonunion members have to pay to unions to cover the cost of collective bargaining.

Read the Supreme Court’s decision here.

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