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June 30, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP)—The Supreme Court dealt a blow to public sector unions Monday, ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois cannot be required to pay fees that help cover a union’s costs of collective bargaining.

In a 5-4 split along ideological lines, the justices said the practice violates the First Amendment rights of nonmembers who disagree with the positions that unions take.

The ruling is a setback for labor unions that have bolstered their ranks and their bank accounts in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of in-home care workers. It could lead to an exodus of members who will have little incentive to pay dues if nonmembers don’t have to share the burden of union costs.

But the ruling was limited to “partial-public employees” and stopped short of overturning decades of practice that has generally allowed public sector unions of teachers, firefighters and other government workers to pass through their representation costs to nonmembers.

Writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said home care workers “are different from full-fledged public employees” because they work primarily for their disabled or elderly customers and do not have most of the rights and benefits of state employees. The ruling does not affect private sector workers.

Virgin America flight attendants to hold union vote (read more…)

By Alwyn Scott
June 25, 2014
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Flight attendants at Virgin America are due to begin voting next month on whether to join a union, which would be the first at the California-based airline.

The balloting by about 850 eligible flight attendants on whether to be represented by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) is due to begin July 16 and run through Aug. 16, the union and the National Mediation Board said on Wednesday.

Virgin America remains the last non-union airline among U.S. carriers after JetBlue pilots voted in April to organize.

Virgin America said it respected the flight attendants’ rights and union election process. But it said the airline’s success was largely due to employees working together to “make flying good again” and “a third-party, like the TWU, would only detract from that.”

It noted that the flight attendants previously rejected TWU representation. “We’re confident we’ll see a similar result this time,” spokeswoman Jennifer Thomas said in an email.

The prior attempt at organizing flight attendants at the Burlingame, California-based airline failed in December 2011. The TWU said the flight attendants are concerned about pay rates, work rules that don’t provide pay for extended flight delays and disciplinary procedures.

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