BURLINGAME, Calif. — The Center for Individual Rights has filed
suit on behalf of eight California teachers challenging the school
district’s practice of making union membership and ascribed dues
The Center formally filed suit in federal court in early February
naming various school district superintendents and unions as
plaintiffs, according to LASchoolReport.com.
The suit seeks to address anew issues that were raised in a similarly
litigated suit filed last year by the center on behalf of Savanna
School District teacher Rebecca Friedrichs that ended deadlocked
before the Supreme Court at 4-4, the Orange County Register reported.
Center President Terrence Pell recently opined there is really
little difference between the two cases. In the case of the
Friedrichs instance, she and other educators claimed their First
Amendment rights were violated by virtue of them being forced to pay
fees to a union they didn’t want to have anything to do with.
Back in June, the Supreme Court declined to rehear the case,
according to EdSource.org.
However, with the Trump administration now in power and the spot on
the bench formerly held by the late Antonin Scalia seemingly headed
to a conservative jurist, supporters of the anti-union stance are
pushing for the case to be reheard by the high court.
Meanwhile, one union leader feels a verdict against them stands to
stretch far wider than just teachers’ unions across the country.
“This would impact all public unions,” Claudia Briggs,
spokeswoman for the Burlingame-headquartered California
Teachers Association, told the Northern
California Record. “Firemen, policemen — whatever happens to
us happens to everybody else.”
Currently, California is one of the states where teachers are
obligated under state law to pay fees earmarked to cover the costs of
collective bargaining. About half the states have this requirement,
Briggs reasons that all teachers now benefit from collective
bargaining, and those taking an anti-union stance simply don’t want
to pay their fair share.
Pell said on LASchoolReport.com that he expects the case could
reach the Supreme Court by this fall, with a decision by June 2018.
Previously, 10 California teachers filed suit against the union,
again contending that were being forced to pay to support positions
they did not necessarily agree with, a violation of their First
Amendment rights, the New York Times reported.
“No one is required to be a member, no one is required to pay
any fees,” Briggs said. “What this is about is making it hard for
working people to come together and speak up for themselves.”
In addition, according to the New York Times report,
then-California Attorney General and current U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris
told the high court in a brief that those who objected to the
positions taken by unions faced no First Amendment violations because
“they remain free to communicate their views to school officials,
their colleagues and the public at large.”
“Unions are legally required to represent all workers, even
those that don’t won’t to be active union members have to
contribute to that cost,” Briggs said.