Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Anti Teacher Union Case Before Court in January

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Freidrichs case in January
What you need to know about who’s behind this anti-union lawsuit
THE SUPREME COURT is scheduled to hear arguments in Friedrichs v. CTA on January 11. Reflecting the high stakes for all unions, the AFT and more than 70 labor organizations led briefs with the court opposing this right-wing attack on union membership and bargaining power.
The court is considering whether to overrule its 1977 decision allowing states to require public employees to join a union or pay a fee to cover collective bargaining costs. These fees cover the worker’s share of the re- sources the union spends on negotiating contracts, representing workers in grievance procedures, and other services that benefit the entire workforce.
Depending on how a particular union operates, the cost of representation for each agency fee payer may range from a small fraction of the membership cost to almost as much as membership. The right of unions to collect fair share fees was settled by the court’s unanimous 1977 decision Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

Since its founding, the Center for Individual Rights has maintained a special focus on challenging civil rights measures.
The list of foundations supporting CIR reads like a who’s who of the right wing’s organized opposition to labor, including billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who are principals in Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held corporation in the nation.

Many local unions are working hard to activate members and sign up fee payers as members.  Unions, the State of California, and the Obama administration say that collective bargaining produces direct benefits to employees, and that without agency fee provisions people who do not pay union dues take advantage of that service while passing its costs on to coworkers who do. California Attorney General Kamala Harris intervened in the case to defend the 1975 state law  authorizing agency fee provisions. Propelling the lawsuit’s gallop  through the courts is the Center for Individual Rights, the right-wing pro bono law group representing Orange County teacher Rebecca Friedrichs and her fellow plaintiffs, nine other California schoolteachers, who have all opted out of union membership. They’re suing the California Teachers Association to relieve themselves from paying their fair share for the services the union is required by law to provide them.
A win for the plaintiffs in Friedrichs would severely hurt public sector unions in the two dozen states that have agency fee laws, including California. The CFT and many other unions are responding to this challenge.
Reprinted with permission from the California Federation of Teachers. Published in California Teacher (Nov-Dec issue), the news magazine of the CFT.

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