"Citizens Coalition" loses

Year Published:  1992
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX4449

The National Citizens Coalition, a right-wing lobby group, has lost its six-year court battle to prevent trade unions from using any portion of union dues to support political causes. The test case concerned Mervyn Lavigne, a community college teacher, who objected to the fact that a small portion of his union dues (about $2 per year) were used to support causes he did not agree with, including disarmament campaigns and the New Democratic Party. Lavigne and the NCC argued that this violated his right to freedom of expression and freedom of association. However, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected Lavigne's appeal and reaffirmed the Rand formula, by which all members of a bargaining unit can be required to pay union dues even if they don't choose to join the union. The judges compared paying unions dues to paying taxes, saying that individuals are also required to pay taxes even if they don't agree with some of the purposes for which the taxes are spent. Judge Beverley McLaughlin said that paying union dues does not necessarily involve support for a cause any more than buying a car implies support for the way the manufacturers spends his profits. Labour advocates also point out that all union members have a right to have a say in union decisions, whereas they have no say in how a manufacturer spends his profit. Lavigne and the N.C.C. were ordered to pay legal costs in the case.

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