In a surprising 4-4 split amongst the liberal and conservative wings of the US Supreme Court, the justices affirmed a Ninth Circuit decision holding that public-sector agency shop arrangements do not violate the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of speech and assembly. Under California law, unions may become the exclusive bargaining representative of respective school districts’ employees.  After establishing itself as the exclusive bargaining representative, a union may put in place an “agency shop” arrangement, whereby teachers and other public school employees may either join the union or pay a “fair share service fee” for the various benefits provided by the union. This service fee is broken down into chargeable and nonchargeable portions, the latter of which may be affirmatively opted out of.  A group of public school employees sued the California Teachers Association and other entities challenging both the agency shop arrangement and the opt-out arrangement under the First Amendment. The death of Justice Antonin Scalia one month after oral argument provides the backdrop of this pro-union result.

Read more here (Oyez) and here (CTA)