The battle still rages

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The battle still rages

Fifty years after the historic rally in Harrisburg that brought about collective bargaining rights for educators, another historic battle looms before the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve what was fought for that day.

At issue in Janus v. AFSCME is whether public-sector unions can continue to charge a “fair share fee’’ to non-members for the benefits and representation they receive under collective bargaining agreements. The fees are lower than members’ dues.

Illinois state employee Mark Janus contends he should not have to pay a fair share fee because he disagrees with AFSCME’s positions. In a 1977 case, the Supreme Court ruled that since unions must provide representation to non-members in a bargaining unit, it is fair to charge fees to cover that representation.

The case, which holds significant implications for PSEA and other public-sector unions, is the latest push by well-heeled, anti-union forces to attack organized labor.

“Educators and public employees stood together courageously a half-century ago to ensure collective bargaining rights,’’ said PSEA President Dolores McCracken. “This is a blatant attempt to undermine those rights – nothing more, nothing less.’’

The court will hear oral arguments on Feb. 26 and is expected to rule in June.