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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General TJ Donovan joins Multistate Coalition Urging U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Workers’ Rights

January 24, 2018

CONTACT: Benjamin Battles, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 595-8679

Attorney General TJ Donovan today announced that he is joining a coalition of 21 Attorneys General in filing an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold existing precedent that permits “fair share” provisions in public sector union contracts. The “fair share” provisions allow a union to collect a fee from all represented employees to solely cover the costs of collective-bargaining related activities. These costs are related to collective bargaining functions such as contract negotiations and processing grievances.

The brief, filed in the case of Mark Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, addresses plaintiffs’ efforts to overrule precedent settled in the 1977 Supreme Court case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. In Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that States may constitutionally mandate “fair share” fees due to government interests in achieving labor peace and the expenses involved in maintaining the staff expertise necessary to perform collective-bargaining functions.

The brief filed by the Attorneys General argues that public sector “fair share” provisions are consistent with the First Amendment, and that overruling Abood’s approval of those provisions would disrupt thousands of labor agreements that States have adopted and maintained for decades.

“I am proud to defend working Vermonters. They are the backbone of our state and deserve a fair shake,” Attorney General Donovan said.

The brief was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and filed on behalf of the Attorneys General of New York, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Last modified: January 24, 2018