Catholic bishops are backing AFSCME in U.S. Supreme Court Fair Share Fee Case

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has sided with unions in the Janus vs. AFSCME case now before the U.S Supreme Court. The Bishops submitted an amicus brief in support of public-sector unions and their right to “fair share fees” from nonmembers for the collective bargaining and representation benefitting non-members.

The bishops’ involvement with Janus vs. AFSCME. surprised some. But church leaders made their support clear, taking part in a forum last week on labor and faith at Seton Hall University.

Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin, on stage with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, explained the bishops’ interest in the case saying the church has a long history of supporting workers and unions. “You should not be able to benefit from all the work that unions do to represent workers without paying your fair share,” Cardinal Tobin said.

Pope Francis, who recently told a gathering of union delegates in 2017, “There is no good society without a good union.” He was far from the first Pontif to side with unions and workers. In his 1981 encyclical Pope John Paul II lauded organized labor organizations as “an indispensable element of social life” And in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the church’s long history of Catholic-labor relations in a lengthy encyclical.

The Bishop’s brief argues that ruling against the unions would “constitutionalize” a national ‘right-to- work’ law. The brief points out that no U.S. bishop ever publicly supported right-to- work laws.

Condensed from a story by Jack Jenkins/Religion News Service

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