The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to possibly rule on a case where public employee unions that cover teachers, firefighters, law-enforcement, as well as other government workers, may lose money, membership, and political influence, reported.

The case, which will be presented to the Supreme Court in February, concerns the fees, that are paid in 22 states, of those public workers who decide not to join a union but have to pay the union fees anyway.

US Supreme Court previous labor union cases

After three attempts during the years 2012, 2014, and 2016, the court appears to be ready to overturn its 40-year-old decision and determine the supposed “fair share” labor union fees as unlawful and unconstitutional.

The decision, in 1977, said laborers did not need to pay for unions' political movement and activities. The decision, that is expected by June, would enable the workers to pay no fees at all. If the court's five conservative judges vote in a way that both sides predict, the unions in predominately Democratic states will lose those laborers as well as union revenue. Then there’s a possibility for other federal lawsuits if those workers are allowed to come together and seek reimbursements for what they have already paid to those Labor Unions.

In addition, unions are bracing for a long-lasting decline of individuals paying full dues. Until now, those employees might save approximately ten to 20 percent of their expenses by quitting the labor union.

A court verdict, in opposition to fair-share fees, would allow them to turn into "free riders." That could drive unions to increase dues on those who continue or otherwise lose clout in Democratic states. “If they don't see this coming, they're totally blind,” a labor expert at the conservative Manhattan Institute stated. He foresees those public member unions could lose from ten to 30 percent of their union membership and union financing in the coming years.

The federal case, “Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees”, will be considered on February 26, 2018, and may be determined before the end of June. The case is supported by several “conservative groups” that for several years, have attempted to invalidate the high court's verdict in the labor union case of “Abood v.

Detroit Board of Education”, which had maintained that it was okay to charge non-union members fees to pay for joint negotiating is okay, but not for politics.

The Supreme Court has decided other similar labor union cases over the past six years with rulings of 7-2, 5-4, and 4-4, chipping away at the verdict of 1977 without annulling it completely. Justice Scalia's untimely death in 2016 took away the fifth vote for conservatives but with Justice Neil Gorsuch now on the court, his vote is expected to provide that fifth vote needed to pass the decision.

Union membership declining

Approximately 15 million citizens are union members which account for less than 11 percent of the total workforce, which is far less that of the 35 percent that were unionized during World War II.

The fall in membership is due to the private employment sector where six percent continue to be unionized. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of conservatives and completely overturns the 1977 verdict, losses in membership will occur as well as loss of union revenue. Around five million laborers could be affected by the expected court ruling where employees in 28 US states will not be required or forced to join or pay any dues to any labor union.

A few groups that have argued in favor of halting obligatory fees and assert that labor unions can reverse declines in union membership if they would better represent the unionized labor force. Those groups have noted data derived from the enactment of “right-to-work” laws in other states in the US.