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U.S. Supreme Court Hears A Case With A Potential For Big Local Impact

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments Monday in a California case that could have major repercussions locally.

Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association challenges a 39-year-old decision that allows a union to collect fees from everyone it negotiates for, even if they choose not to become a union member. Non-members don't pay the same fees as members. Attorney Alaine Williams explains, they pay what's called a "fair share."

"All of the unions in the city of Philadelphia, certainly the school district, and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania have negotiated fair share agreements so if the court were to overrule that decision, it would have very serious consequences for all local unions, including the uniformed services," said Williams.

Williams, who helped draft the Pennsylvania law, says the fees cover the costs of negotiating the wages and benefits non-members enjoy but the plaintiffs maintain unions are purely political organizations even when they're negotiating contracts and say mandatory dues violate the First Amendment. The Court gave ten minutes extra to each side for arguments, indicating they appreciate the high stakes.


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