Issues and Cases

PLF supports lawsuit by California non-union teachers over mandatory union dues

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association


Contact: Deborah J. La Fetra

Status: PLF's amicus brief in support of petition for cert. was filed on March 2, 2015. The Supreme Court granted the petition for writ of certiorari on June 30, 2015. On June 28, 2016, the Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decision favoring the unions on a 4-4 tie.
 
Summary:
Many California public school teachers resigned their union memberships over the past several years, often due to disagreement with their union’s policy positions.  However, a union is required by law to represent all employees within its bargaining unit, even if they are not union members.  Accordingly, California law requires non-union teachers to pay dues toward the collective-bargaining activity of the union that represents them.  These teachers may refuse to pay dues toward their union’s political lobbying — but a refusal requires teachers to jump through several procedural hoops, including expressly and affirmatively notifying their union of their desire not to pay those dues.  There is a very short time limit to refuse.

A group of teachers challenged these compelled union dues as unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.  Because their claims are foreclosed by current U.S. Supreme Court caselaw, that asked the lower federal courts to rule against them as quickly as possible so as to speed their case to the Supreme Court.  The lower courts complied, and the teachers filed their petition for writ of certiorari.  As amicus curiae supporting the petition, PLF argues that the earlier case that forces teachers to subsidize their union’s collective bargaining, was based on unsound premises and that the Court should accept this case to overrule the discredited precedent.  If the United States Supreme Court takes the case and sides with the teachers, the teachers will win the freedom to choose whether to support the union that purports to represent them.

 

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