Unions at the nation’s largest police departments want the U.S. Supreme Court to protect cops’ bargaining power from a possible “death spiral,” reports the Marshall Project. Siding with the rest of organized labor and against the cop-friendly Trump administration, nearly 20 law enforcement groups signed “friend of the court” briefs urging the court not to outlaw the mandatory dues that pay for their bargaining and lobbying activities. The justices are hearing arguments on the issue Monday, and they are expected to strike down mandatory dues. The case was filed by Mark Janus, a child care specialist who objected to paying monthly dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Janus, represented by the National Right to Work Foundation, contends that forcing public workers to pay union dues is a violation of the First Amendment. Illinois and about 20 other states require public employees who opt out of union membership to pay the labor organization a discounted rate — called “fair share fees” or “agency fees.” The largest police union, the National Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Trump, says that a ruling in Janus’ favor would lead to a “death spiral” for law enforcement. “We don’t do bake sales and we don’t solicit by telephone,” said the FOP’s James Pasco. “We collect dues from our members.” Pasco estimated that about $11.50 of the annual dues paid by each of the FOP’s 325,000 members goes to cover the union’s legal department and the national lobbying arm. An officer with “fair share” status would be exempt from financing Pasco’s work thanks to a 1977 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows public employees to opt out of subsidizing their union’s political activities.