labor unions

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling Wednesday that will reverberate through America's schools for years.

In Janus v. AFSCME, a 5-4 court majority overturned precedent, saying that public sector unions, like those that represent law enforcement, state employees, and, of course, teachers, can no longer collect what are known as agency fees from nonmembers.

Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET

In a blow to organized labor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that government workers who choose not to join a union cannot be charged for the cost of collective bargaining.

The vote was a predictable 5-4. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion with the court's conservatives joining him.

More than 9 in 10 teachers say they joined the profession for idealistic reasons — "I wanted to do good" — but most are struggling to some extent economically.

Many political campaign workers spend long hours at low pay, living off of pizza and coffee, all in the hope of seeing their candidate win.

Now, labor organizers are setting their sights on bringing those workers into the labor movement at a time when the percentage of U.S. workers who belong to a union is falling steadily.

The newly formed Campaign Workers Guild claims to have helped organize at least a dozen Democratic campaigns and one political consulting firm.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

On Monday night, the Democratic National Convention featured speeches from a string of labor leaders. They spoke for different constituencies — teachers, public sector workers, builders — but together they delivered their unifying message: Clinton, not Trump, is the best candidate for American workers.

"He thinks he's a tough guy. Well, Donald, I worked in the mines with tough guys," said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. "I know tough guys. They're friends of mine. And Donald, you're no tough guy; you're a phony."

A landmark Supreme Court decision that's nearly 40 years old is on life support. The outcome of a case currently before the court could cripple public employee unions in 23 states, and weaken their influence nationwide.

It's the showdown at the Supreme Court Corral on Monday for public employee unions and their opponents.

Union opponents are seeking to reverse a 1977 Supreme Court decision that allows public employee unions to collect so-called "fair share fees."

Twenty-three states authorize collecting these fees from those who don't join the union but benefit from a contract that covers them.

If the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal isn't revived in the next few days, labor unions will have helped defeat one of President Obama's main foreign policy goals. But what will defeating the TPP, an agreement that covers 12 nations along the Pacific Rim, do for labor?

Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO, has had a front-row seat to the trade negotiations on Capitol Hill.

She opposes many of the provisions in the new trade deal, but she can't tell you exactly which.