On January 11th the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the case of Friedrichs v California Teachers Association. Originating from a complaint filed by a 28 year veteran of the Anaheim school system, Rebecca Friedrichs, she is joined by 9 other educators who wish to see a 40 year old Supreme Court decision concerning union fees overturned. At the heart of this debate is the politics of Teachers’ Unions. Fees paid by union members can find their way to State and National level organizations supporting specific candidates for office or back specific positions on social issues. Those educators who have concerns over this have had the option to opt out of a portion of the union fees and simply provide an ‘agency fee’ that covers the cost of collective bargaining for contracts in addition to other services provided by the union in support of all educators. The goal of Friedrichs is dual fold; first it aims to strip unions of the power to charge ‘agency fees’ and second it would essentially end the practice of automatic renewal for deduction of union fees to the rest of the bargaining unit. A victory by Friedrichs and her co complainants would be a tremendous blow to one of the last powerful unions left in the United States. The following are informational pieces that demonstrate the issues at stake and the positions taken by either side.
The Supreme Court hopes to rule on Friedrichs in June.