QUOLKE’S CORNER Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

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Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association   January 11, 2016


     This morning (January 11) the Supreme Court began to hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that could result in public sector unions being prohibited from collecting “fair share” fees from non-members to fund a union’s collective bargaining activities.  The Supreme Court’s decision in this case can have huge implications for all of organized labor including the Cleveland Teachers Union.  The possible catastrophe for labor unions is not a mistake – it is the plan of this lawsuit that began in California.  You see, the petitioners in Friedrichs (named for Rebecca Friedrichs, an NEA teacher who along with 9 other teachers initiated the lawsuit) are being financially backed by the Center for Individual Rights.  This is an organization that has strong ties to ALEC, the Koch brothers, and other individuals and organizations that consistently fight unions, fair wages, and workers’ rights. 

     If you have not paying attention to Friedrichs – you should be. 

     Right now all members are expected to pay dues to the union.  Those who chose not to join the union are required to pay a “fair share” fee which is essentially fees for collective bargaining, representing members, advocating for member voice, and better working conditions.  Regardless of whether or not members join the union ALL members benefit from the results of this work - so all members must contribute their “fair share”.  The petitioners in Friedrichs want to strike down this law claiming that “fair share” is a violation of their First Amendment rights.

     We are all aware of what happened in Wisconsin when we here in Ohio were fighting against Senate Bill 5.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker attacked unions.  Wisconsin did not have the ability to go to the ballot and overturn their Governor’s attack on workers and the attack has had serious implications on workers.  Since 2011 – collection of union dues has declined, the collective power has declined, negotiations have become more difficult, and compensation has decreased for union members all across the state (in some cases by 10% in less than 5 years).  This is what the Center for Individual Rights wants to happen all across the country and there are those that hope this is what happens right here in Cleveland.

     There will be much news on Friedrichs and possible actions that we will take up as members of AFT, OFT, and the CTU.  Stay tuned.

In Union,