The New York Times reports on today’s hearings about the Friedrichs vs. CTA case and says that questioning did not appear favorable to the public sector unions. If the unions lose, workers who do not join can enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without having to pay their fair share.


Adam Liptak wrote:


The Supreme Court seemed poised on Monday to deliver a severe blow to organized labor.


In a closely watched case brought by 10 California teachers, the court’s conservative majority seemed ready to say that forcing public workers to support unions they have declined to join violates the First Amendment.


A ruling in the teachers’ favor would affect millions of government workers and culminate a political and legal campaign by a group of prominent conservative foundations aimed at weakening public-sector unions. Those unions stand to lose fees from both workers who object to the positions the unions take and those who simply choose not to join while benefiting from the unions’ efforts on their behalf.
The Supreme Court ruled narrowly in the case, with the majority 5-4 opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Under California law, public employees who choose not to join unions must pay a “fair share service fee,” also known as an “agency fee,” typically equivalent to members’ dues. The fees, the law says, are meant to pay for collective bargaining activities, including “the cost of lobbying activities.” More than 20 states have similar laws.


Government workers who are not members of unions have long been able to obtain refunds for the political activities of unions like campaign spending. Monday’s case asks whether such workers must continue to pay for any of the unions’ activities, including negotiating for better wages and benefits. A majority of the justices seemed inclined to say no.


By the way, I received an email with a Facebook posting by the President of the Santa Ana, California, Education Association, who knows one of the plaintiffs. She posted this on Facebook and asked that it be shared widely:


“I normally don’t post my frustration against people but I will make an exception. I [met] Peggy Searcy when I was working at Lathrop. She is now one of the plaintiffs in the Freidrichs vs CTA case. When Peggy was working, she was able to transfer from Franklin to Lathrop and Lathrop to Greenville because of the protections bargained by SAEA; between 2008 and 2012 she did not have furlough days thanks to the work of SAEA and is currently enjoying a wonderful pension which was fought for by CTA! She is now working hard via the Friedrichs case to destroy the unions as we know them! She wants to ruin it for all of us who are still working! Shame on you Peggy!”
–Susan Mercer