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U.S. Supreme Court

Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292 (1986)

Chicago Teachers Union, Local No. 1, AFT, AFL-CIO v. Hudson

No. 84-1503

Argued December 2, 1985

Decided March 4, 1986

475 U.S. 292


Petitioner Chicago Teachers Union has been the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the Chicago Board of Education's educational employees since 1967. Approximately 95% of the employees are members of the Union. Until 1982, the members' dues financed the entire cost of the Union's collective bargaining and contract administration, and nonmembers received the benefits of the Union's representation without making any contributions to its cost. In an attempt to solve this "free rider" problem, the Union and the Board entered into an agreement requiring the Board to deduct "proportionate share payments" from nonmembers' paychecks. The Union determined that the "proportionate share" assessed on nonmembers was 95% of union dues, computed on the basis of the Union's financial records. The Union also established a procedure for considering nonmembers' objections to the deductions. After the deduction was made, a nonmember could object by writing to the Union President, and the objection would then meet a three-stage procedure: (1) the Union's Executive Committee would consider the objection and notify the objector within 30 days of its decision; (2) if the objector disagreed with that decision and appealed within another 30 days, the Union's Executive Board would consider the objection; and (3) if the objector continued to protest after the Executive Board's decision, the Union's President would select an arbitrator. If an objection was sustained at any stage, the remedy would be a reduction in future deductions and a rebate for the objector. Respondent objecting nonmembers of the Union brought suit in Federal District Court, challenging the Union procedure on the grounds that it violated their First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and association and their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and also permitted the use of their proportionate shares for impermissible purposes. The District Court rejected the challenges and upheld the procedure. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the procedure was constitutionally inadequate. The court rejected the Union's defense that its subsequent adoption of an arrangement whereby it voluntarily placed all of the objectors' agency fees in escrow cured any constitutional defects. chanrobles.com-red

Page 475 U. S. 293


1. Under an agency shop agreement, procedural safeguards are necessary to prevent compulsory subsidization of ideological activity by nonunion employees who object thereto while at the same time not restricting the union's ability to require any employee to contribute to the cost of collective bargaining activities. The fact that nonunion employees' rights are protected by the First Amendment requires that the procedure be carefully tailored to minimize an agency shop's infringement on those rights. And the nonunion employee must have a fair opportunity to identify the impact on those rights and to assert a meritorious First Amendment claim. Pp. 475 U. S. 301-304.

2. Here, the original Union procedure contained three constitutional defects. First, it failed to minimize the risk that nonunion employees' contributions might be temporarily used for impermissible purposes. Second, it failed to provide nonmembers with adequate information about the basis for the proportionate share from which the advance deduction of dues was calculated. And third, it failed to provide for a reasonably prompt decision by an impartial decisionmaker. The nonunion employee, whose First Amendment rights are affected by the agency shop itself and who bears the burden of objecting, is entitled to have his objections addressed in an expeditious, fair, and objective manner. Pp. 475 U. S. 304-309.

3. The Union's subsequent adoption of an escrow arrangement did not cure all of these defects. Two still remain -- failure to provide an adequate explanation for the advance reduction of dues and to provide for a reasonably prompt decision by an impartial decisionmaker. Pp. 475 U. S. 309-310.

743 F.2d 1187, affirmed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. WHITE, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which BURGER, C.J.,joined, post, p. 475 U. S. 311. chanrobles.com-red

Page 475 U. S. 294