Supreme Court deadlock upholds win for unions in fee case

The split vote leaves in place an appeals court ruling that upheld the practice

FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2014, file photo, people walk outside the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court is starting a new term on Oct. 5, 2015, that promises a steady stream of divisive social issues, and also brighter prospects for conservatives who suffered more losses than usual in recent months. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2014, file photo, people walk outside the Supreme Court in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A tie vote from the Supreme Court means public sector unions in about half the states can continue collecting fees from workers who choose not to join.

The justices on Tuesday divided 4-4 in a case that considered whether public employees represented by a union can be required to pay “fair share” fees covering collective bargaining costs even if they are not members.

The split vote leaves in place an appeals court ruling that upheld the practice.

The result is an unlikely victory for organized labor after it seemed almost certain the high court would rule 5-4 to overturn a system in place nearly 40 years.

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) applauded the outcome.

“I believe that everyone who works should be able to makes ends meet, have a say in their futures, and have the right to negotiate together for better wages and benefits that can sustain their family,” she said. “While we may have won the battle today, there is still more to be done to ensure workers keep their fundamental collective bargaining rights.”

Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) also issued a statement in response to the decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association:

“I am pleased by the result of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Friedrichs case, but it’s clear the attacks on workers’ rights won’t stop any time soon.  There are other court cases pending across the country that would undermine the rights and abilities of workers to negotiate for fair wages and a safe working environment,” he said.

The court is operating with only eight justices after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who had been expected to rule against the unions.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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