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0 comments | October 02, 2006 | 9:55 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page jumps into the paycheck protection case.

It's no secret that the political power and influence of U.S. public-employee unions derives from their ability to collect mandatory dues. But the issue of whether these forced dues can be used for political activities without explicit permission to do so from workers could use some legal clarification.

The editorial notes that the Supreme Court has addressed this issue before.

In a landmark 1988 decision, Communications Workers v. Beck, the Supreme Court held that workers under union contracts couldn't be forced to pay dues for activities not directly related to collective bargaining. But enforcement, which falls to the Labor Department and National Labor Relations Board, has often been weak or nonexistent.

WSJ calls for a broad ruling from the Supreme Court.

The temptation for the Justices in the current case will be to rule narrowly on the First Amendment issue raised by the Washington supreme court and stop there. But the Court could do a service for the country by addressing the issue more fundamentally. ... The High Court now has an opportunity to set some national guidelines regarding the constitutionality of both paycheck protection laws for nonunion workers and the more general practice of unions extracting money from any worker involuntarily. Let's hope they don't take a pass.

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