WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has dealt a blow to public sector unions -- ruling that thousands of home health care workers in Illinois can't be required to pay fees that help cover the union's cost of collective bargaining.
It was a 5-to-4 ruling, split along ideological lines.
The justices said requiring those workers to pay the fees violates the First Amendment rights of non-members who disagree with the positions that unions take.
It's a setback for labor unions that have increased their ranks -- and boosted their bank accounts -- in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of in-home care workers. The ruling could cause members to leave those unions -- feeling they have little incentive to pay dues if non-members don't have to share the burden of union costs.
But the ruling was limited to this particular segment of workers, and not private sector unions. And it stopped short of overturning decades of practice that generally has allowed public sector unions to pass their representation costs on to non-members.