The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that government workers can't be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining, and local union leaders say they're not suprised by the decision.
The ruling from the U.S .Supreme Court overturns a 41-year-old decision that allowed states to require public employees to pay some union fees, even if the workers choose not to join a union.
The court ruled this violates the First Amendment by compelling workers to support unions they may disagree with. The conservative Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity calls the ruling a landmark decision that will significantly reduce the power and funding of labor unions.
National Education Association Rhode Island’s Executive Director Bob Walsh said he was not surprised by the ruling.
"The system is still rigged against working people. That said, obviously, we will move forward. Unions are still the most effective groups that can make change and give workers a pathway to the middle class," said Walsh.
Walsh said there is no doubt his union will lose members, but he said he’s not as worried as critics think.
"Tomorrow will be like today, business as usual. We’re going to continue to represent members. We’re still the best and most effective way that they can find a path to the middle class. And we’re going to be stronger not weaker," he said.
Governor Gina Raimondo tweeted in support of unions, saying Labor built the middle class, and when unions are strong, Rhode Island is strong.
Walsh said he does not believe this decision is the end of labor unions.