The Supreme Court has agreed to consider a challenge to state laws requiring workers to pay fees to a union, even if they are not a member.

The Duluth News Tribune explains the case:

The court could deal a severe blow to the union movement in a case from California. The justices will hear a free-speech challenge to pro-union laws in more than 20 states that require all public employees pay a “fair share fee” to their union, even if they are opposed to the union and choose to not join.

Rebecca Friedrichs, an Orange County teacher, sued the California Teachers Association, alleging the forced fees violate her rights under the First Amendment. Friedrichs vs. CTA will be argued January 11th.

The “fair share fee” is the legal loophole union bosses use to defuse opposition to forced unionism.

Many states have Right to Work laws which state no union can force a worker to join simply to get or keep a job.

However, in other states, even if a worker is not required to “join” the union, they must still pay a “fee” in exchange for the supposed benefits realized by the membership of other workers.

Union bosses use the “free loader” claim to argue they should have the legal right to compel payments from all workers, even those that oppose the union.

They argue the fees are fair because the contracts they negotiate with employers cover all employees, both union members and non-members.

That’s why many Right to Work laws are introduced with language requiring workers who are not in the union to negotiate their own contracts.

Ironically, union bosses seek to strike that language in order to protect their position of negotiating contracts for non-members simply as a means to oppose Right to Work laws.

The Friedrichs case could end that.

Friedrichs and her attorneys argue that paying forced fees to a union she opposes violates her right to free association.

The fact the Court agreed to hear the case indicates her argument has legal merit.

“Twice in the past three years this Court has recognized that agency shop provisions—which compel public employees to financially subsidize public sector unions’ efforts to extract union-preferred policies from local officials—impose a ‘significant impingement’ on employees’ First Amendment rights,” the National Right to Work Legal Foundation reminded the Court in an amicus brief on the case.

A ruling striking down the requirement could be a death blow to many liberal causes.

Despite declining union membership, they remain the single greatest source of funds for liberal political campaigns and committees.

And much of that cash comes from dues and fees imposed on workers in states where the worker has no choice but to pay or be fired.

Without the government legally protecting their ability to forcibly take money from workers’ paychecks, unions would see their cash reserves dry up very quickly.

In fact, when the state of Wisconsin eliminated collective bargaining by state government employees, union membership and cash collapsed.

“Since June 2011, teacher enrollment in the WEAC has dropped nearly a third from nearly 100,000 members, and the smaller union AFT-Wisconsin has fallen more than half from its peak membership of 16,000,” Fox News reports.

A ruling for Friedrichs could replicate that on a national level.