The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that government workers can't be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining.
The 5-4 ruling scraps a 41-year-old decision that had allowed states to require that public employees pay some fees to unions that represent them, even if the workers choose not to join.
Eric Feaver is the president of the Montana Federation of Public Employees, which represents some 18,000 public school teachers; health care employees; state, county and municipal employees; and higher education faculty. The MFPE represents some employees at MTPR.
"Will this hurt us? Well, yes, but it doesn't kill us," Feaver said. "So I'm trying to remind people that it's not the end of days by any means."
Union leaders elsewhere in the country said they expect to suffer some loss of revenue from dues and also predicted that the same anti-union forces that pushed to get rid of the so-called fair shares that non-members had to pay will try to persuade members to cut their ties.
The unions say the outcome could affect more than 5 million government workers in about two dozen states and the District of Columbia.
The case decided today involved Illinois state government worker Mark Janus, who argued that everything unions do, including bargaining with the state, is political and employees should not be forced to pay for it.