The plaintiffs -- represented by the the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), a conservative public interest law firm -- argue that the mandatory fees, which support costs associated with collective bargaining, violate their First Amendment rights.
"Requiring teachers to pay these 'agency fees' assumes that collective bargaining is non-political," reads a posting on CIR's website. "But bargaining with local governments is inherently political. Whether the union is negotiating for specific class sizes or pressing a local government to spend tax dollars on teacher pensions rather than on building parks, the union's negotiating positions embody political choices that are often controversial."
Organized labor's power and effectiveness is still significant in Illinois despite unions having 97,000 fewer members in the state than a decade ago, local economic and labor experts argue in a new report.
"The labor movement's presence is still keenly felt in Illinois," said Frank Manzo with the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, which jointly released the "State of the Unions 2015" report with researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago.
"Unions continue to increase incomes across the state and advance a strong, middle-class economy," he added.