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State comptroller's office will stop collecting 'agency fees' from 31,000 workers

ALBANY — The state comptroller’s office will stop collecting “agency fees” from about 31,000 state employees as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that ends the required payments by workers who have already opted out of joining a union, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The court decision, Janus v. AFSCME, will be a bump in take-home pay for administrative employees on July 11 and for other employees on July 19.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the action will affect only nonunion workers or state employees who were identified as being required to pay fees to compensate for union protections even if they chose not to join a union.

The current state payroll lists about 225,000 workers.

The June decision by the high court means workers can no longer be forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining, a serious financial blow to Democratic-leaning organized labor, powerful in states like New York.

The 5-4 decision not only frees nonunion workers in nearly two dozen states from any financial ties to unions, but also could encourage members to stop paying dues for services the court said they can get for free.

“The stakes for the court now could not be higher: The future of health care, the environment, women’s rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, racial equity and more” is on the line “as President Trump ponders Justice Kennedy’s successor,” Nan Aron, of the liberal Alliance for Justice, wrote on Twitter.

The case was named for Mark Janus, a child-support worker in Illinois who challenged state rules requiring payment of dues to the Civil Service Employees Association as a condition of employment. It ended a practice that dated to 1977 and could now cost public employee unions significant revenues.

The Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank, estimates 200,000 workers in state and local governments and school districts pay about $112 million a year in agency fees. The center said union dues range from $600 annually for lower-paid workers to more than $1,000 a year for some teachers and others.

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