Advocates for Labor and Progressive Institutions

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Important Agency Fee Cases in First and Second Circuits

July - August 2007

On two fronts, Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC attorneys recently turned back “right to work” efforts to make it more difficult for unions to collect agency fees from nonmembers whom they represent in collective bargaining. 

In the First Circuit, firm attorneys won an important decision in Locke v. Karass, 498 F.3d 49 (1st Cir. 2007), decided in August 2007.  In that case, the court rejected efforts to create a litigation exception to the Supreme Court’s ruling that state and national unions may calculate their agency fees by pooling expenditures made on behalf of the various bargaining units they represent.  Several weeks earlier, in a matter now on appeal to the Second Circuit, a district court decision adopted the firm’s contention that union expenditures for organizing nonunion bargaining units were “chargeable” to agency fee objectors.  The court earlier had declined to certify the case of Scheffer v. Civil Service Employees Association(W.D.N.Y.) as a class action, holding that attorneys employed by the National Right to Work Foundation were not adequate representatives of a class of public employees, in light of the Foundation’s stated objective of holding down public-employee wages by combating unionization in the public sector.