political action

Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association

Highlights (or lowlights)

  • An elected union must represent all members within a bargaining unit even if some members choose not to join the union
  • To prevent “free riders” the United States Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that unions may charge “agency fees” to non-union members. This is to subsidize to cost of representation. Since everyone benefits from union negotiations it is fair to charge “all” members a fee. (Abood v. Detriot Board of Education 1977)
  • Friedrichs disagrees. The lawsuit claims that it is a violation of her first amendment rights to be forced to pay dues and have someone speak on their behalf.
  • Prior to the case being heard, it was believed that the Supreme Court would decide 5-4 in her favor. This would cause union dues to be paid on a voluntary basis.
  • If enough members choose not to contribute their dues, the union and its contract become null and void.
  • 51% of a bargaining unit must contribute for a union to be recognized. Less than that and it no longer exists.
  • Recently Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. The case is in flux.
  • If the president is allowed to appoint a new Justice, the scales could tip back in our favor.
  • If the senate blocks the appointment and a republican takes office we could see the scales revert back to the 5-4 against unions.
  • This case is being backed by wealthy corporations such as; Koch Brothers, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Center for Individual Rights looking to break unions across the country.
  • We must stay strong. Educate our members of the benefits of union membership and to be aware of the attack we face on all sides.