WASHINGTON -- In what may turn out be a painful blow to labor unions, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday in a case that could make the entire U.S. public sector a right-to-work zone.
In the case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a group of public-school teachers in California want the court to rule that the First Amendment prohibits their union from requiring them to pay what are known as "fair-share fees." Such fees, which all workers in a bargaining unit are obligated to pay, help cover the costs of maintaining union contracts.
If the court rules against the union and workers are given the option of not paying those fees, public-sector unions stand to lose significant funding. The lawsuit, backed by a host of groups on the right, gives conservative justices -- especially Justice Samuel Alito -- the chance to overturn a four-decade-old precedent that essentially declared fair-share fees to be legal.
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