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 mandatory.
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, LASchoolReport.com said.
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.