Statement from PEF President Wayne Spence:
Last night, we received expected, but nonetheless, good news from the federal district court of the Eastern District of New York in Berman v. PEF, our “Friedrich’s” agency fee case.
The federal district court granted a motion to dismiss the Berman claim that the provision of Civil Service Law that allows public sector unions to collect agency fees from non-members is unconstitutional because it violates first amendment rights. Relying on well-established US Supreme Court precedent, the Court found there is NO violation of first amendment rights in this provision of law and dismissed this part of the lawsuit against both PEF and the State. Although other aspects of the case will continue against PEF, this is welcome news and once again shows the federal courts are willing to abide by 40 year precedent which permits unions to collect fees to support the important services, including collective bargaining, they provide to members and non-members equally as the exclusive bargaining representative of employees.
Although this is good news, anti-union and anti-labor groups will not stop trying to get this first amendment issue before the US Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court abolishes fair share, then bargaining unit members who do not pay for union services will be able to free ride on the backs of those who do and potentially cause a diminishment of the services union provide to their members.
That is why we must continue to build PEF power to fight those forces whose only goal is to undermine our collective bargaining rights, attack our pensions and threaten the security of our jobs. Remember, Together We Win!