Sunday, January 17, 2016

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: The Case to Push Right to Work Nationally

“Yesterday [January 11], the Supreme Court heard extended arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The case is ostensibly a First Amendment case about whether public employees who do not want to join a union can withhold all fees—the same as ‘right to work’—or whether unions can charge those employees fees—‘agency’ or ‘fair share’ fees—to cover activities germane to collective bargaining. The plaintiffs, 10 objecting teachers and a Christian education association, were asking the Supreme Court to overturn the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that declared that agency fees were the proper compromise between workers’ constitutional rights and the government’s interest in promoting labor peace…

“Judging by the briefs submitted in this case and the oral arguments, there is good reason to be concerned about future attacks. After union dues and fees, the likely next attack will be about exclusive representation. If the Supreme Court here determines that the requirement to pay fees for representation violates public sector workers’ First Amendment rights, it is hard to see how they won’t also soon determine that public sector unions’ representation of workers does not also violate their First Amendment rights. While some union advocates have argued for the elimination of exclusive representation (especially in response to ‘right to work’), one has to recognize that American labor law was established with a careful balance in mind. Without required fees and without exclusive representation, the horizon will change greatly.

“Though it’s impossible to divine from oral arguments which way the ultimate decision will go, yesterday’s argument showed a lack of understanding on the part of some of the justices of how unions function, an antipathy towards their activities on behalf of their membership and a view of them as being at odds with the Constitution. None of that bodes well for the outcome unions are hoping for in this case” (Yesterday’s ‘Friedrichs’ Arguments Show Labor’s Difficulties in a Post-‘Citizens United’ World by Moshe Z. Marvit).

1 comment:

  1. The Jan. 17 Trib had a disgusting editorial about this case. I'm crossing my fingers and praying that it will not be upheld, but I'm not very optimistic.