In Support of Workers’ Free Speech Rights
Last year, I wrote about an important free speech case that the U.S. Supreme Court had just handed down. Knox v. Service Employees International Union dealt with the manner in which unions could automatically deduct dues from public employee salaries and apply those dollars toward the union’s political purposes. Knox dealt with a narrow fact pattern, so extrapolations of the Court’s findings to future fact patterns will not be perfect, especially given the status of the case law. Yet the substantive question addressed in the Court’s opinion I think really boils down to this: should the burden be on a public employee to opt-out of an automatic salary deduction program whose proceeds could fund a union’s political activities? Or should the burden be on the union to get employees to opt-in? Are these “free speech dollars” taken from the employee’s paycheck presumptively the employee’s, or presumptively the union’s?