U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Friedrichs union membership case

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments Monday in a case that seeks a radical paradigm shift by making it more difficult for public workers to bargain collectively. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, wants to overturn common sense jurisprudence that was established more than 40 years ago in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which allows states and localities the freedom to choose whether all public employees should pay their fair share for the employment representation they receive.

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union with more than 3 million members, and the California Teachers Association, are two of the union respondents in the case. WEAC is the state-level affiliate of NEA.

“As a 30-year teacher, I know what my students need to succeed. Collective bargaining was never just about salaries and benefits. Educators use the collective bargaining process to negotiate for smaller class sizes, safer schools and better learning environments for all students,” said WEAC President Betsy Kippers. “This is a national attack mirroring what we’ve seen in Wisconsin. It’s no secret what the result is for students. Restrictions on collective bargaining opened the door to some of the largest cuts in public schools, leading to larger class sizes and fewer opportunities. Tax dollars are taken from public schools to instead pay private school tuition with no real accountability. And, we’ve seen an exodus of teachers leaving our state to go to neighboring states that respect educators.”

The case relies on a failed premise and logic as no employee can be forced to join a union. But unions are legally required to represent everyone in a unionized workplace when it comes to collective bargaining. Educators who don’t want to belong to a union only have to contribute to the costs of the representation they receive. This case is attempting to undo nearly four decades of sound, commonsense law that has provided stability in the workplace and provided quality public services for communities.

More than 24 briefs by hundreds of amici—representing all levels of government, public officials, civil rights organizations, academic experts, and others—were filed with the court in support of the respondents. Weighing in on the case have been 23 states and the District of Columbia, dozens of cities, nearly 50 Republican lawmakers, school district and public hospitals rose in support of the value fair share fees provide in terms of the effective management of public services.

If the court overturns Abood and eliminates fees for non-members, unions will still be required to represent them, but some workers would be paying more than their fair share. Allowing some to opt out of paying will make it harder for all public employees to provide the services that everyone depends on.

 

For more information about the case, including links to friend of the court briefs, columns by experts opposing the deceptive lawsuit, and other data, go to www.cta.org/friedrichs. For more on national impact and background, see the America Works Together coalition site at www.americaworkstogether.us.

Keep up with the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WorkTogether.