February 10, 2015

By:  Adam Dauksas

Yesterday, Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive order that seeks to abolish “fair share” fees for state employees who do not wish to join a public sector union.  The Governor’s executive order does not, however, extend to local governmental employees, such as those employed by school districts.

In Illinois, public employees are free to choose not to join a union but must still pay “fair share” fees, which are used to support a union’s collective bargaining efforts that benefit all employees, regardless of union membership.  “Fair share” fees may not be used by public unions for political activities, but, according to the Governor, such a distinction cannot possibly be made because public sector unions bargain directly with the government.  Thus, says the Governor, some public employees are being required to sponsor political activities that they do not agree with, which is in violation of the First Amendment.

As a practical matter, if your collective bargaining agreement requires you to deduct “fair share” fees from bargaining unit members who have not joined the union, you must continue to make those deductions and remit the fees to the appropriate union.   If such provisions are declared illegal or unconstitutional as applied to Illinois public school employees, we will issue further guidance.