Last November, anti-union groups put a measure on the ballot in California called Prop 32, whose purpose was to reduce the political influence of unions by reducing their funding. Prop 32 was soundly defeated, but its proponents are back with a lawsuit to achieve the same purpose. If they win, they could cripple public sector unions across the nation.

This is a major story in the movement to privatize public education, dismantle the teaching profession, and turn schooling into a marketplace.

“In a little-noticed move in April, a conservative legal organization that has pushed to overturn the 1964 Voting Rights Act filed a lawsuit in federal court in Santa Ana that could accomplish in the courts what Prop. 32 couldn’t at the ballot box. The players behind the suit may not be household names but the millionaires and private foundations covering their legal fees represent a familiar klatch of extreme libertarians who, since the 1980s, have been attempting to move the country in a hard-right direction.

“The main plaintiff, the Christian Educators Association International (CEAI), firmly opposes reproductive rights and marriage equality – two of the same movements opposed by Prop. 32′s various backers. CEAI also supports school voucher programs and the teaching of Creationism – also causes championed by some of Prop. 32′s supporters, who saw unions as an obstacle to imposing their political will on California when it came to these and other issues.

“The lawsuit, known as Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, challenges the constitutionality of laws that allow teachers’ unions to collect fees from teachers who don’t want to be members. The lawsuit also seeks to outlaw an automatic payroll deduction process, under which teachers who don’t want a portion of their fees to go for political activities must “opt out” of funding those activities. It claims that California’s “agency shop” law violates the First Amendment by compelling public school teachers to pay fees to teachers unions involved in political activities.”