The U.S. Supreme Court takes up a case Monday that could deal a crippling blow to unions representing millions of the nation's public employees, NBC News reported.
The justices are asked to decide whether state government workers who choose not to join a union can nonetheless be required to pay a share of union dues to cover the cost of negotiating contracts.
At stake is the future power and financial health of public sector unions in the 23 states where they have a duty to bargain for both members and non-members alike.
A loss for the unions "would call into question thousands of public-sector contracts covering 9.5 million public employees and affecting scores of critical services, including police, fire, emergency response and, of course, education," said David Frederick, who will argue the case for union teachers from California.
The Supreme Court has long held that requiring non-union members to pay the full amount of union dues would violate their right of free expression, forcing them to subsidize a union's political activities whether they agree with its goals or not.