Local labor unions react to Supreme Court decision over union fees

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Justices struck down an Illinois law requiring non-union workers to pay fees that go to collective bargaining. It's a major financial blow to organized labor.

Wednesday's ruling overturns a nearly 40-year-old court precedent. The 5 to 4 ruling was along partisan lines

The effects of that decision are that unions will lose considerable bargaining power and that union membership could sink. The court said that mandatory union dues violated first amendment rights.

"We'll have less resources available in terms of funding, so the chapter members will probably chip in more to do things, which is fine. You know it's all about empowerment," said Terresa Lee, a local member of the SEIU who works for the San Francisco Housing Authority.

RELATED: Supreme Court rules states can't force government workers to pay union fees
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The Supreme Court says government workers can't be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining, dealing a serious financial blow to organized labor.

Local members of the SEIU say the Supreme Court ruling is a setback, but not defeat. They're putting on a brave face and say their members are loyal. "In general, our members will continue to support the union and stick with our union no matter what," said Lee.

This ruling by the nation's highest court stems from a labor case filed by Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner in 2015.

Organized labor argued so called "fair share fees" were necessary because unions are required by law to represent all employees, part of the union or not. That argument didn't stick.

Some of the largest unions dealing with this new financial hurdle are here in California. Reaction is pouring in from both sides.

On Twitter, East Bay Congressman Ro Khanna said, "#SCOTUS just came down on the wrong side of history in #JANUS. We will come together to fight back and work to strengthen unions and raise wages."

Meanwhile, President Trump is claiming victory. The president took to Twitter calling a "Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!"
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