Abood v. Detroit Board of Education

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Abood v. Detroit Board of Education
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 9, 1976
Decided May 23, 1977
Full case name D. Louis Abood v. Detroit Board of Education
Docket nos. 75-1153
Citations 431 U.S. 209 (more)
Argument Oral argument
Opinion Announcement Opinion announcement
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Stewart, joined by Brennan, Marshall, Rehnquist, Stevens, White
Concurrence Rehnquist
Concurrence Stevens
Concurrence Powell, joined by Blackmun, Burger

Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), is a US labor law case where the United States Supreme Court upheld the maintaining of a union shop in a public workplace. Public school teachers in Detroit had sought to overturn the requirement that they pay fees equivalent to union dues on the grounds that they opposed public sector collective bargaining and objected to the ideological activities of the union. The court affirmed that the union shop which is legal in the private sector is also legal in the public sector. They found that non-members may be assessed dues for "collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment purposes" while insisting that objectors to union membership or policy may not have their dues used for other ideological or political purposes.[1]


Michigan state law authorized agency shop agreements between public agencies and unions representing government workers. The Detroit Federation of Teachers was certified as the exclusive union for Detroit schoolteachers in 1967.[2] D. Louis Abood, a school teacher who objected to union membership and to the union's endorsements of political candidates, sued in Michigan state court in 1969.[3]


The Court upheld collective bargaining fees on the basis of private sector precedents in Railway Employees' Dept. v. Hanson, 351 U. S. 225 and Machinists v. Street, 367 U. S. 740.[4]

The restriction on union use of funds for non-collective-bargaining purposes was based on First Amendment protections regarding freedom of speech and association. The Court found, "[The] notion that an individual should be free to believe as he will, and that, in a free society, one's beliefs should be shaped by his mind and his conscience, rather than coerced by the State ... thus prohibit[s] the appellees from requiring any of the appellants to contribute to the support of an ideological cause he may oppose as a condition of holding a job as a public school teacher ... the Constitution requires ... that such [political union] expenditures be financed from charges, dues, or assessments paid by employees who do not object to advancing those ideas and who are not coerced into doing so against their will by the threat of loss of governmental employment. [5]


  1. ^ "Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Educ. - 431 U.S. 209 (1977)". Justia US Supreme Court Center. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  2. ^ Journal of collective negotiations in the public sector. Baywood Pub. Co. 1978. p. 214. 
  3. ^ Kaiser, Harry Mason (2005-04-11). Economics of commodity promotion programs: lessons from California. Peter Lang. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8204-7271-3. 
  4. ^ "Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Educ. - 431 U.S. 209 (1977)". Justia US Supreme Court Center. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  5. ^ 431 U.S. 235-236 (1977)

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