Friedrichs for Freedom!
Supreme Court Case Tests the Limits of Union Power
Monday, January 11 will result in either the start of a very happy New Year for worker choice or the preservation of a nearly 40-year-old bad Supreme Court decision.
Rebecca Friedrichs, a California public schoolteacher, has joined with nine colleagues in hopes that the Supreme Court will overturn the agency fees both union members and non-members are required to pay. These fees were upheld in the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.
The Abood decision, where Michigan public schoolteachers fought the agency fees they were forced to pay to the Detroit Federation of Teachers, sustained the expectation that non-members would contribute to the union’s collective-bargaining costs.
However, in 2014, the Court seemed to contradict the Abood decision in Harris v. Quinn. In that case, non-member, Medicaid-funded home-care personal assistants were forced to pay union agency fees. The decision declared the required fees unconstitutional, since the individuals were not state employees, but rather home health-care workers paid through Medicaid.
Although the Harris verdict did upset their dominion, unions still argue that their agency fees are the only protection against “free-riders,” or workers who do not pay for, but gain from, union negotiations. This exact claim is the union’s declaration of war on Friedrichs.
Rebecca Friedrichs and the other teachers are fighting to keep their own money. Agency fees taken against a teacher’s will are nothing more than government-sanctioned theft. And when theft is legalized, people do not view it as theft.
But they should, and hopefully the Court will.