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Public School Teacher Rebecca Friedrichs: "I Never Asked the Union to Represent Me."

A California teacher is taking her fight with organized labor all the way to the Supreme Court.

"We're asking that teachers be able to decide for ourselves, without fear or coercion, whether or not to join or fund a union," says Rebecca Friedrichs, a veteran public school teacher in Buena Park, California. "It's that simple."

Friedrichs is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in April 2013 that seeks to overturn a California law that requires her to pay union dues even though she's not a member of the union.

There are 26 states with "agency shop" laws of this sort in place.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association in its fall session.

Reason magazine's Matt Welch sat down with Friedrichs at FreedomFest 2015.

About 6 minutes.

Edited by Alex Manning. Camera by Paul Detrick and Zach Weissmueller.

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  • Deli-bro||

    This could be huge if (big if) the nazgul rule in her favor. However, even if she wins her case, I cant see anything changing right away everywhere. As we saw post Heller, draconian state and city gun laws are still very much alive.

  • Butler||

    As I understand this issue, this wouldn't allow people to exempt themselves from collective bargaining -- they would still be forced to participate in that. Rather, it would allow them to opt out of union membership and would reduce their union dues to pay for only costs associated with collective bargaining, and not other union activities, like organizing campaigns and lobbying efforts.

  • BearOdinson||

    But it all comes back to public sector unions. One of the most insidious things the government has going on. While I am not personally a fan of private sector unions, a business owner should be free to agree to a contract with a union that it will only employee union members. As well a business owner should be allowed to go out of there way not to hire union members.
    However, gov't employees (and yes, public school teachers are gov't employees) should never have been allowed to create unions. Imagine, a union that charges its members dues, then puts that money into its left pocket to pay for collective bargaining and organizing efforts. Then takes money out of its right pocket to lobby to elected officials to increase the pay and benefits of its members. Help us get elected, we increase your salaries and benefits. And citizens don't have the choice to whether or not to use these gov't employees services.

    Ah, Utopia!

  • Bgoptmst||

    This.

    A private sector union is a means for the workers who take part in the production of tangible goods and services negotiate with the company for wages. It's in the best interest of both parties to make sure workers are motivated and profit stay in the black.

    Public sector unions are about special interests negotiating on behalf of themselves for better benefits without any measure of increased output or service. In my mind, public sector unions only exist to fleece tax payers.

  • FuriousFatMan||

    yea, the teachers would have to produce something other than failure to get paid in the private world...

    the vast majority of public school teachers are barely qualified to ask me if i want fries w/ that.

    -FFM

  • Butler||

    Even FDR and other early union supporters acknowledges that public sector unions should never exist. It's the slow creep of progressivism that strangles us.

  • Suicidy||

    Anything that reduces the dominion of unions is a positive thing.

  • macsnafu||

    What? Allow teachers to decide for themselves about joining a union? But the unions are there for their own good! Teachers can't be allowed to decide what's best for themselves! Don't they understand that they're exploited victims who need union 'protection'?

  • HolgerDanske||

    Forcing government employees to join groups that lobby government. What could go wrong?

  • Galane||

    "There are twenty-six states with "ageny shop" laws of this sort in place." Would be nice if that link was a link to a list of the 26 States.

  • William C.||

    This. Ah well, Google time...

  • William Pilgrim||

    This suit might get more media legs if somebody mentioned that Ms. Friedrichs is a dead ringer for the amazing Nina Hartley.

  • Suicidy||

    Hot for teacher!

  • american socialist||

    I guess what I would say is that if I'm part of a 100 people that belong to a teacher's union and 5 of those teachers don't want to pay dues for an organization that negotiates pay raises and benefits on my behalf I probably would go to my employer and say look there are 5 teachers that pretty much are itching to go teach at the shitty Jeebus school down the street. Maybe you should let them do what they've always wanted to do. Until that time me and the other 94 other teachers that aren't looking to promote their Tea Party agenda are going out on strike. And, by the way, we'll be outside picketing so all the little tykes outside can ask their parents why school teachers get such shitty pay. Freedom of association, right libertarians?

  • William Pilgrim||

    What you call freedom of association, if it intends to discriminate against those who choose not to associate, as in not joining a union, is a sham. If there is equal protection under the law, then association should never be coerced in decision, other than national fealty. Coerced association with any organization is as offensive as coerced association with a religion.

  • american socialist||

    "Coerced association with any organization"

    That sounds awfully like a job to me. I don't understand your objection. Going out on strike is coercion? How so?

    Right-wingers here will go to the mat for any kind of corporation and excuse violations of all kinds of labor, environmental, and safety laws-- arguing that corporations are merely collections of individuals. Therefore those collective organizations should have the liberty to do things like pay retarded workers 2 cents per day for their labor (h/t peter schiff) Ok, fine... Let's accept that argument. Shouldn't labor unions-- again merely collections of individuals-- have the same right to act in their own interest?

    William, one more thing, can you define rent seeking and use the term in a complete sentence for me? That would help me out a lot. Thanks, man.

  • MC1135||

    No one is arguing that labor unions shouldn't be allowed to exist. The argument is people ought to be able to choose whether or not they participate in (and therefore, reap the benefits of) a union.

    THAT is free association.

    And if the people who don't pay into the union aren't receiving any benefits, you have nothing to picket, do you?

  • american socialist||

    "No one is arguing that labor unions shouldn't exist..."

    Right. You'd just like to see them rendered totally powerless. Good news... They pretty much are and middle class wages have stagnated since 1979 relative to the top 1%. And I bet there are plenty of right-wingers at Reason who think labor unions shouldn't exist. Because nothing says fascism like like-minded individuals forming affinity groups to get their shitty boss fired.

    The teachers that belong to the union shouldn't have the ability to go out on strike if individuals start rent-seeking? Why not? Don't you guys know anything about closed shops?

  • Win Bear||

    Right. You'd just like to see them rendered totally powerless.

    Correct. Unions should have no powers other than the collective bargaining powers of their members.

    They pretty much are and middle class wages have stagnated since 1979 relative to the top 1%.

    You are right that unions cause wages and working conditions to be better for unionized jobs. But unionization is around 10%. Those increased wages and better working conditions are paid for by the other 90% of the population. Increased unionization does nothing to help the middle class, it hurts the middle class.

    And I bet there are plenty of right-wingers at Reason who think labor unions shouldn't exist.

    Unions "should exist" as voluntary private associations. But as voluntary, private associations, most employees have little reason to join, and employers have little reason to want to deal with them in most businesses.

  • Harun||

    Can I have an organization of small businesses that negotiates with the consuming public using enhanced collective leverage to increase our profits?

    No.

    But its okay for workers to do that.

  • freedomlover||

    I am. Gangs are not in anyone's best interests. Be they unions or Surenos. It's all bad.

  • Suicidy||

    So you, the shitbag that dumped his mortgage onto the rest of us, has a problem with non union employees hypothetically benefitting from the collective bargaining of unions of which they are not members? I would be shocked if it weren't for the fact that massive hypocrisy is the cornerstone of socialism.

  • Win Bear||

    for an organization that negotiates pay raises and benefits on my behalf

    Public teachers' unions work on behalf of the bad teachers and against the interests of good teachers. It's bad enough that they have to submit to the shitty deals these organizations negotiate, they shouldn't also have to pay for being screwed.

  • Harun||

    Remember who the most ardent supporter of the union is in this example: the teacher who is abusing 6 year olds and who is burnt out and hates teaching but has to wait for her pension.

    Essentially, a bad teacher.

    So, while you get excited about imaginary Christian teachers, you really should remember the union is there to support the worst teachers.

    That's who you're sticking up for: the worst, most abusive teachers.

    Good job!

  • freedomlover||

    It's called racketeering idiot. Only unions don't get prosecuted for it.

  • Gluteus Maximilian||

    Congratulations. You win today's award for longest string of uninterrupted left wing cliches strung together into a mass of incoherent slop. For your prize, you get to spend 15 minutes in the nearest ACLU parking lot reading bumper stickers to recharge your lockstep conformity.

  • Michael Hihn||

    I saw these abuses as a "reform" school board member, Many career teachers told me they never felt safe talking to a board member. When the union tried to recall me, they had a revolt inside the union and had to cancel the effort ... I was told by the union vp. I also ran a winning tax revolt so dealt with a LOT of parents. Many of them said our efforts were supported by "the teachers our kids will remember for their entire life," which must have been the chatter in town. There's not enough awareness, I believe, of the high degree of professionalism in public teachers. They must keep it hidden.

    Later, living in Seattle, WA tate passed a law forbidding dues to be spent on political donations -- before the "agency" laws she mentions here.

    After the very next election, our entire state LP flipped out, A fair number of "renegade" teachers sued their own union ... to get their own money back! The teachers union had openly flaunted the campaign law, The renegades won, but it's a progressive state so they tinkered with the law. Thanks, Matt. I will LOVE following this case.

  • Suicidy||

    Yep, WA pretty much sucks anymore. Hello gas tax hike tomorrow.

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  • Harun||

    I listen to a call in show for financial planning every Saturday.

    The hosts can guess if you're a public sector employee when they hear things like "I plan to retire at 57."

    That's very Greece-like.

  • spqr2008||

    Or, if like my parents, you were incredibly frugal throughout the years, and made sacrifices to obtain career advancement in order to achieve higher pay (my mom often had to be out of town on business trips for her job). They retired two years ago at age 57.

  • freedomlover||

    Yes. My parents too!

    Only now, my father is dead, my mother is 85. And I'm 58 - like your parents - and can't retire due mostly to health care premiums (they are more than my house payment!) even though I followed my parents example of frugalness into twice the wealth at my age of 58 that they had when they were 58 and retired.

    But, you know what really sucks?

    My mother needs to go into assisted living. And, after a bad accident at home alone she is game. But it bothers her to no end that every time we visit a potential place and they describe the cost on a sliding scale based on the person's income and/or wealth, she just seeths. She goes on a rant how she and my father sacrificed to get where she is now and saved like hell. Others didn't and lived like spendthrifts. Only, now they are being rewarded with 50% governmental subsidies for their elder care while she is forced to shill out $4,000/month. She says it's not fair and refuses to participate.

    She ain't wrong. But, my siblings and I lie to her about it to sooth her feelings.

    Rent seekers win. Producers get the shaft.

    What the hell is wrong with modern society? I completely get why the millenials hate the baby boomers. They see what's wrong with this scenario we created.

  • Devil's Candy||

    Ms. Friedrichs looks like she just walked out of one of my 14 year old self's sweaty fevered dreams. Sorry, I know that's way off topic, but I had to exorcise it from my thoughts.

  • Gluteus Maximilian||

    Ah, David Lee Roth. I wondered what you had been up to.

  • GOPNJ||

    I don't have any sympathy for Ms. Friedrichs. The fact she accepted a union job means she asked the union to represent her. I also find her to be very dishonest. In one interview she was asked if she knew prior to accepting her first teaching position in LA that it was a union position she said no that she didn't discover the union position prior to her student teaching. She is obviously playing everyone for fools as student teaching takes place while one is in college and prior to acceptance of a first teaching position. In other places she claims that all of the benefits she has received due to contracts negotiated by her union were immoral. Yet, she continues to receive them. Why doesn't she just quit and take a job in a private job where her morality won't be challenged? She is a hypocrite.

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