Teachers Unions

Supreme Court Will Hear Mandatory Dues Case, Could Cripple Teachers Unions Next Year

Teachers who don't agree with their union's politics have to pay up anyway.

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Teacher
Dreamstime

In a move that likely signals a willingness to deprive teachers unions of the power to collect compulsory fees, the Supreme Court has decided to hear a case challenging the practice next fall.

On Tuesday, the Court announced that it will take up Friderichs v. California Teachers Association. The petitioners are teachers who object to the union's collective bargaining strategies, as well as its political advocacy. In California, even teachers who aren't part of the union are forced to pay dues to fund the union's activities.

Lead plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs says mandatory dues violated her First Amendment rights by requiring her to provide financial support to causes she doesn't support. When I interviewed her for The Daily Caller in December of 2013, she told me that she favors school choice, but is forced to give money to a union that lobbies against that policy. She also thought the union was harming her students' interests by protecting bad teachers.

The teachers are represented by the Center for Individual Rights. Its president, Terry Pell, worte in a statement:

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.  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.

The Supreme Court has never held that compulsory union dues violate free speech rights. But there is good reason to expect that the current court might rule that way. The conservative 5-4 majority in 2012's Knox v. SEIU essentially invited such a challenge, and the decision today by the Court to hear the case is a very good sign.

A big win for Friedrichs could have massive consequences. California is just one of 20 "closed-shop" states that require non-members to pay union dues. Compulsory unionization could be ruled unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds nationwide.

We'll have to wait until June 2016 to find out.

NEXT: Video of C-SPAN interview about my book "The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain"

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  1. Roberts will go in with the four “liberal” justices, and this will die.

    1. I think you meant “four” liberal justices.

    2. I think you meant four liberal “justices.”

    3. I think you meant “Roberts”.

    4. I think “meant” Caitlyn Jenner.

      1. Ahha! So THAT’s what they’ve got on him!
        He’s a transexual!

    5. He’ll declare the dues are just a tax.

    6. I “think” you’re all a bunch a funny fucks.

    7. I think you meant “die” as without the parentheses you’d be in danger of the “justice” department coming after you for threats.

  2. 06/2016: The Weepening

  3. The decision on this case will depend on how Roberts is being treated on the cocktail party circuit.

  4. Yeah, shit – after the Penaltax Rewrite-the-Law decisions, I’m sure this case is a slam dunk for the good guys.

    Have at ‘er, ladies! Good luck! You’ll need it!

  5. But if the contract reasoning used in the SSM case is used consistently, then there should be no closed shop. The union members can pay dues, but non union members didn’t want or need that contract, and refuse to abide by it.

    1. Hahaha that world be so awesome if the logic in Obergefell resulted in the court imposing RTW across the land.

  6. Depends how Kennedy feels about reliable donations to Democrat campaigns.

  7. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the…..ional.html

    Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Will Likely Wipe Out Public-Sector Unions

    On Friday the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case next term that could wipe out public-sector unions. These unions require all public employees in a certain profession to pay fees associated with nonpolitical union representation, like collective bargaining. Now 10 California teachers, along with the Christian Educators Association International, are suing to halt the collection of these fees. They believe that mandatory union payments constitute compelled political speech in violation of the First Amendment.

    There is virtually no chance that the Supreme Court will disagree.

    Their tears are so yummy.

    1. The nice thing about having progressives as enemies is that they are so orthodox it is easy to predict exactly what their arguments will be on any subject, way in advance. And thus prepare and refine counter-arguments well before the case actually gets heard.

      1. Progressive arguments are so fallacious, they’re predictable. But also keep in mind, libertarians are better than any other group at logical consistency and understanding the arguments of their opponents. Conservatives for example, are rather prone to accepting the underlying premises of progressive arguments without even recognizing the inconsistency. Think sin taxes, prohibition, “nation-building” et cetera.

      2. I find it to be exactly the opposite. Their definitions and principles are so fluid, I never know where they’re gonna come from next.

        Same with conservatives.

        1. ^THIS.

          If the desired answer is 5, they will come up with a theorem that says 2+2 = 5.

          If the desired answer is 3, they will come up with a theorem that says 2+2 = 3.

          Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. And they have a problem with the implications of freedom.

          1. 2+2[where 2=1] = 3

            easy peasy.

            1. wait, i’m being told that in algebra numerals are literals and cannot represent variables.

              how about 2+2 “=” 3

              1. Love that! I’m-a steal the shit out of it.

              2. wait, i’m being told that in algebra numerals are literals and cannot represent variables.

                That’s just in rayciss bourgeois capitalist math. In the New Math, numerals can mean anything we need them to mean.

        2. Depends on the topic. They’re pretty orthodox on economics and regulation. It’s when you get into the social justice bullshit that language means whatever they decided it means this week.

          1. Even their squishier beliefs are wholly predictable I think. The SJW sentiments of today are a predictable outcome of the leftist view of human nature and justice. Logical inconsistency is a feature, not a bug. They are consistently inconsistent, if you will.

            1. Their arguments are wholly consistent from the perspective of “I want a Pony.”

          2. I think I always know what their conclusion will be, but I’ll damned if I know how they plan to get there.

            1. How they get there is entirely irrelevant to the progressives. The means always justify the ends, as the millions of victims of socialism would attest if they weren’t so damn dead.

          3. If you assume that their thoughts on economics and regulation are closer to the end (e.g. Communism) and their thoughts on SJW bullshit are the means (e.g., a way to attack the demographics and institutions that threaten or are least receptive to Communism), everything they do makes perfect sense.

    2. Aw crap, are we relying on Slate accurately predicting something? Now watch Roberts decide that clear intent of mandatory dues is to improve the life of union members, and thus it must stay.

      1. No, Roberts will decide that, not only do teachers have to pay dues, so do all other adults in a school district.

        1. Ultimately, they already do.

      2. Maybe they’ll say it’s not a due but a tax, so that would make it ok.

    3. The back and forth between union and pubsec union in that article caused whiplash. There is a huge difference between pubsec and privsec unions.

    4. The “will likely wipe out public-sector unions” is interesting. It implies that, given the choice, almost nobody would be in the union. The union must really be doing a bang-up job for it’s members. Way to sell the product guys!

  8. I’m sure Sotomayor’s position is going to be that nobody is being forced to be a school teacher, so the government may compell people, via contract, to contribute to organizations they don’t support as a condition of entering into the school-teaching profession.

    My objection is that the right to enter into a profession of one’s choice is a fundamental liberty which cannot be conditioned upon sacrificing certain other rights. The government may set standards for the profession but may not bar it to certain classes of people or compell them to violate their religious or politicial liberties, unless it has some compelling interest in doing so and uses the least restrictive means. (For example, restricting secret service members from expressing political opinions in a public forum.)

    1. The government may set standards for the profession

      I don’t even agree with that, that’s how far gone I am.

      1. Yeah, I don’t think SCOTUS is ready to strike down occupational licensing in general, quite yet.

        1. I wish they would at least apply strict scrutiny to it. There are only a handful of occs that would pass that standard.

          1. -1 African hair braider’s license

    2. unless it has some compelling interest in doing so and uses the least restrictive means.

      There’s always a “compelling interest” for any conceivable government policy. That’s hardly an argument that’s appropriate for discussion about what government ought to do or be allowed to do.

      1. I’m arguing based on a language of Supreme Court case law.
        According to precedent, government may only pass a law that violates some fundamental liberty (such as freedom of religion, or freedom of speech), if it has a “compelling interest” and uses the “least restrictive means”. This is what is known as “strict scrutiny”. As opposed to the “rational basis” test that is used typically for commerce clause regulation.

        I’m pushing for a shift in the legal stance towards economic liberties. Specifically, treating freedom of occupation as a fundamental liberty. Thus restrictions on entry into that occupation would have to meet strict scrutiny rather than rational basis standards.

    3. I have very low expectations from the “liberal” side of the court, but if they say that forced dues collection is constitutional, that will be last nail in the liberal logic coffin as far as I am concerned.

      1. Well, Sotomayor argued in the raisin takings case that entering into raisin commerce could be conditioned upon giving up property rights to your raisins.

        1. Wow. And she calls herself a Wise Latina?

        2. Isn’t she the one who argued, before her nomination to SCOTUS, that the government should be able to censor writing in some cases? And then didn’t really back away from that under questioning?

          That, as much as anything, points to how little those in power care about rights of the people. Making that statement, and then refusing to disavow it completely, should have automatically disqualified her (or whomever made it) from sitting on any court.

    4. Hazel, to play devils adocate…

      The right to enter into a profession of one’s coice IS a fundamental liberty. Yes. Anyone can be a teacher.

      Anyone can be a teacher. Want to teach at a home-school co-op? Great. Want to teach at a Montessori school? Fine. Want to run a K to 12 UNschooling program? Excellent. This is a private contract.

      But we are not talking about being a TEACHER. We are talking about being a teacher for a specific employer (the public school system) who has entered into an agreement with unions for mutually beneficial goals, namely, getting as much funding for administrators and protection for teachers as possible. So the employer (the state) can compel the employee (the teacher) to participate in a program.

      And anyway, if the teacher doesn’t want to pay the dues, the school can rewrite the contract so that the dues are paid by the school on behalf of the teacher, rather than the inividual teacher. So it is a moot point anyway.

      Okay, devil’s advocate over. I am going to go throw up now…

      1. I had this same thought.

      2. Here’s a possible response:

        But if the public school system employs 80% of the teachers in the state, then one’s employment options are severely limited if one cannot become a public school teacher unless one participates in some politically objectionable activity (such as giving money that supports a political party one opposes). Moveover, precisely because it is the *public* school system, and not some private actor, the government has an obligation to remain neutral and not discriminate based on political persuasion. It can’t enter into exclusive contracts that compell people to support a preferred party as a condition of employment because it’s a public employer.

        1. First of all, the idea that the government has an obligation to remain neutral when unions are involved is just untrue. If it were there wouldn’t be laws that require employees to belong to a union, or not belong to a union. These laws are, of course, unconstitutional, and this upcoming case may show that, but I doubt it.

          Also, this is assuming that we will break that old Iron Law. “In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.” Which will never happen — a bureaucracy will always support those who support the bureaucracy itself.

          Your other point is that the public system is large enough that it limits one’s employment. Now, I am NAL, but I do not think this will stand in court. Afterall, the teacher’s freedom isn’t restricted, only difficult to act on. I am legally free to date 20-year-olds and race Teslas, but the government is not under any obligation to provide me with these things.

    5. nobody is being forced to be a school teacher

      And yet, they are all severely underpaid and need more money!

  9. The conservative 5-4 majority in 2012’s Knox v. SEIU essentially invited such a challenge, and the decision today by the Court to hear the case is a very good sign.

    Chief Arbitrary Justice Roberts is hardly predictable except in his deference to the whims of the government, you know, because you can’t protect people from their political choices or something something.

    Compulsory unionization could be ruled unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds nationwide.

    The fascist specter of FDR will not be undone, methinks.

    1. One day, we’ll meet on the shores of the Potomac and we’ll flip for who gets the first ride on the bulldozer that pushes his memorial into the water.

      1. A boy can dream can’t he?

      2. The 4th of July is coming up. Explosives are being sold everywhere. There are lots of good websites that will show you how to, safely, dismantle and rebuild these fireworks for other purposes.

        Just sayin’.

        1. So I can build a woodchipper out of bottle rockets?

        2. I’m hoping for your sake you don’t own a Pressure cooker

      3. I want to chain it to a tank and drag it thru the streets of DC, like they did with Saddam’s statue’s head, or emperor Palpatine’s

    2. Unless the people’s political choices results in a law with conflicting clauses in which case he can save the people from the results of their political choices.

  10. Any idea how this will affect non-public unions? I can’t help but think of the Boeing/NLRB clusterfuck.

    1. If they would just rule the Wagner Act unconstitutional, all of the clusterfucking surrounds union legitimacy would evaporate in an instant.

    2. Ideally, if an employer decided to only higher union employees for whatever reason, that would be their business, and the union could set whatever rules it wants.

      1. Ideally, if an employer decided to only higher union employees for whatever reason, that would be their business, and the union could set whatever rules it wants.

        In the ideal scenario, unions would be competing with other unions or at least potential ones, instead of being handed a monopoly of unionization within that shop. Also in the ideal, workers would not be forced into entry of union as a condition of employment unless by contract between the employer and the individual worker. The logic that “well you aren’t forced to join the union because you aren’t forced to take that job” is only valid in a scenario where the government isn’t forcing employers to deal with that particular union in the first place. I don’t think we disagree on that point, I’m just expanding on that point a little bit.

        1. scenario where the government isn’t forcing employers to deal with that particular union in the first place

          That’s the key point with the Boeing shit. Kind of. The government, in league with the union, was attempting to force the company to only hire union employees by not allowing it to manufacture in a right-to-work state.

          1. Well the union aspect of that is a tertiary issue in the Boeing case. The injustice in the Boeing case is that the feds are claiming the authority to tell manufacturers which jurisdictions they’re allowed to manufacture in. It would be the same injustice if the local chapter of NAMBLA was in league with the government in forcing Boeing to manufacture in one place over another.

          2. What happened in the end? I havn’t been following it. Did the NRLB win or did Boeing?

            1. Boeing lost hard, as I recall.

              1. I think it was a push. From my brief Googling just now, the union negotiated with Boeing to ensure the new 737 would be made in WA, and the Dreamliner manufacture continued as planned in SC.

            2. Looks like the NLRB dropped the case. Not sure if Boeing ever got to set up shop in SC.

  11. Maybe they’ll decide that working free of third party dictates is a super important unenumerated right that gives them the feelgoodz.

  12. They will rule however the king wants them to rule.

  13. she should be compensated higher than a union employee because she doesn’t have union work rules dogshit on her shoes for her employer to deal with.

    1. Exactly. Who knows if she might have been able to negotiate a higher salary or benefits package for herself than the union could collectively? Some chicks are good at negotiating, believe it or not.

      1. I used to teach AP Physics. I guaran-fucking-tee you I should have been able to negotiate a better salary and/or benefits package than one of the Freshman english teachers or gym coaches (not that a good gym coach isn’t a great asset to get kids into better condition, but there aren’t a handful of them out there).

        After a few years, I figured I did my charity and work and almost tripled my salary in the nuclear power industry!

  14. “Its president, Terry Pell, worte in a statement”

    See what happens when we degrade teaching standards!?

    1. “worte”

      Needs some Compound W…

      Robby, this is not how they do things at Columbia.

  15. it really depends on whether 5 fucktarded superlegislators in black robes feel that day.

    1. Something I believe Scalia wrote in his dissent over Obamacare subsidies started to bug me and it hasn’t been talked about much. That this wasn’t a case of an obvious transcription error or typo. I don’t give a fuck if there is a typo. If it makes ANY substantive difference in the law whatsoever, then once it is published in the Federal Register that is the law. If there is an error, even if the result is a nonsensical one, if a case comes before the SC, that law should be declared null and void and let Congress fix the error. It isn’t the SC’s job to fix laws and go with “we know what you meant”. Fuck that. I don’t care how minor the error. If a law is ambiguous, how about saying that law is simply gone. If Congress thinks it is a big deal, pass a better one.

  16. The Supreme Court has never held that compulsory union dues violate free speech rights.

    Well, given that the SC has already held that money is speech *specifically* regarding political contributions and that free speech also means being free from the compulsion to speak – even to the point of dancing around to find a way to force photogs to work for clients they don’t want to work for without gutting that – they’ll have a hard time justifying compulsory union dues.

  17. As someone slated to become a teacher soon, I hope the unions get spanked. Fuck them

  18. Government should get out of regulating unions, period; it only gets involved if there’s violence surrounding the, uh, negotiations. There also shouldn’t be government worker unions. Don’t like how your public employer is treating you? Call your local representative.

    1. You mean like a whistle blower? Yea, they have great success.

  19. “Lead plaintiff Rebecca Friedrichs says mandatory dues violated her First Amendment rights by requiring her to provide financial support to causes she doesn’t support.”

    This is a pretty broad (no pun intended) statement. The first amendment does not require one to provide financial support for causes they don’t support. Like, foreign intervention, foreign aid, social issues one does not support….?

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