The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it will hear a major challenge to California's public unions–and public unions all over, really–brought by a Buena Park teacher-turned-Fox News heroine.
Rebecca Friedrichs, a 27-year veteran educator who works in the Savanna School District in Buena Park, is the named plaintiff in the suit that challenges whether the California Teachers Association (CTA) may charge fees to non-members to support collective bargaining. But Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA) was actually filed on behalf of 10 California teachers.
If the nation's highest court agrees with them and overturns the law allowing for the collection of fees from non-members, the ruling would deal a crippling blow not only to the 295,000-member CTA but also to the national organized-labor movement as 26 states have similar laws for public-employee unions.
The Supreme Court's conservatives have already signaled that they find these fees unconstitutional because they require some employees to support a cause they oppose. The legal challenge is being funded by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Individual Rights (CIR), a small conservative group that alleges forcing Friedrichs and other teachers to fund their union is a type of unconstitutional compelled speech.
"This case is about the right of individuals to decide for themselves whether to join and pay dues to an organization that purports to speak on their behalf," says Terry Pell, the non-profit CIR's president, in a statement. "We are seeking the end of compulsory union dues across the nation on the basis of the free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Rebecca Friedrichs and the other California teachers we are representing are looking forward to their long overdue day in court."
Lawyers for the CTA and California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat seeking a U.S. Senate seat, defend the union fees on grounds that they were authorized by law in the 1970s.