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Banning Unions from Lobbying

A ridiculous low-level court decision that will inevitably be overturned

Kris LaGrange's picture
Sep 16, 2020

In a stunning decision issued on Tuesday, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has ruled that private-sector unions can’t use mandatory fees from employees to pay for lobbying efforts.

In the case, Jeannette Geary sued to stop their union, United Nurses & Allied Professionals, from using their agency fees for lobbying. They charged employees for lobbying work on seven bills, two of which would have increased state funding for hospitals. The others would have increased state hospital regulation, required safer patient-handling practices, prohibited mandatory overtime for nurses, and improved nurse pensions.

In the decision the judges said that the Supreme Court has at least suggested that political activities are off-limits and that “we see no convincing argument that legislative lobbying is not a ‘political’ activity,” said U.S. Circuit Judge William Kayatta.

“We do agree with the union that there is no conceptual reason for concluding that lobbying by a private-sector union could never be necessary to the union’s performance of its collective bargaining duties,” Kayatta wrote. “In theory, there exist instances in which an expense could reasonably be called both a form of lobbying and germane to collective bargaining.”

The decision was unanimous from the three-judge panel. While the case is sure to be appealed, it sets a dangerous precedent and a dangerous first step towards weakening private-sector unions' ability to collect dues and efficiently advocate on their members behalf and well being. The case is a big blow to private-sector unions. With this decision, unions will now need to further separate out how this money is divided up and limiting their ability to work for their members. An unecessary requirement that is systematically designed to weaken the strength

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