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NWPE Members Published in Seattle Times on Friedrichs
posted by: Cindy Omlin | January 12, 2016, 09:10 PM   

By all reports on the oral arguments held at the Supreme Court Monday, January 11th, it is believed that the Court is poised to overturn the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education decision on 1997 which first enabled compulsory union representation fees for nonunion teachers.rachel damiano

These three teachers (Rachel pictured on right and Barbara below), along with seven other public school teachers who were not named, noted:

“(P)ublic-sector collective bargaining is political by nature. Consequently, we believe any requirement for public employees to fund labor unions amounts to compelled political speech in violation of the First Amendment.

Collective bargaining directly affects the size, cost and nature of state and local government. Union contracts help shape the kinds of services families and students receive. These fundamentally political issues are the subject of significant disagreement both inside and outside the teaching profession.”

barbara watsonThe justices appeared to agree with this point of view in the oral arguments.  Mike Antonucci, Education Intelligence Agency, noted in his blog, Justice Sotomayor’s Ingenious Solution to the Agency Fee Problem, that Justice Sotomayor wondered, on the other hand, whether the teachers’ union is a “creation of the State” and “whether  the union could claim it could not financially fulfill the duties of exclusive representative and ask the school district to pay those expenses”  or assess its employees a fee for that activity.

To clarify, Friedrichs attorney Michael A. Carvin asked if she meant “could the government subsidize the union’s collective bargaining efforts. “Mm­-hmm,” she replied.

Thankfully, later in the arguments, Justice Samuel Alito asked California Solicitor General Edward C. Dumont, the attorney opposing Friedrichs, whether he thought the union served as an agency of the state.  Dumont said that while it “has an official place in the functioning of the school district. . . it does not become an organ of the State.”

But that’s not how it feels, does it?  A decision is expected in late June 2016.

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