Free Minds & Free Markets

Stossel: Supreme Court Ruling May Crush Unions

The Supreme Court hears a case that might crush government unions. The unions are upset. Stossel debates a union official.

Monday the Supreme Court hears a case that could block unions from forcing government workers to pay union dues.

John Stossel was forced to pay union dues when he worked at CBS and ABC, and he says government workers should have the right to choose whether to pay. Of course, that would weaken the power of union leaders.

Teacher Rebecca Friedrichs says their power should be weakened. She tried to fight people she calls "bullies" at the California Teachers Association. She was trying to save some teachers' jobs during the last recession by getting all her fellow teachers to take a slight pay cut.

She says the teachers were willing to take a cut–to save jobs, but the union would not even allow her to survey the other teachers.

So Rebecca decided she no longer wanted to pay union dues. She sued the California Teachers Association and her case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Observers said Rebecca was likely to win.

But then Justice Antonin Scalia, who would likely have ruled in her favor, died. Without him, the case tied 4-4; that meant the union won.

Now, Scalia has been replaced by Neil Gorsuch, and the court will hear a nearly identical case next week brought by plaintiff Mark Janus.

The union being sued is America's largest government workers' union, The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Their Director of Research and Collective Bargaining, Steven Kreisberg, tells John Stossel it would be unfair for the court to make public-sector unions like his "right to work."

Kreisberg suggests that the plaintiff "simply doesn't want to pay [dues] because he'd like to get those [union] services for free."

Stossel asked Friedrichs about that. Her answer: "I never asked for [union] representation...I don't see it as a benefit...the benefits aren't worth the moral costs."

By "the moral costs," she means the harm in supporting a union that she thinks harms kids and teachers with their bad policies.

Stossel says he hopes the court will make government-worker unions "right to work," because forcing someone to pay for something they don't want is tyranny.

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    There will be a collective scream from the left when the SCOTUS decision causes a disturbance in the Dark Side of the Force.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    How would anyone hear such scream, against the background of a half-century of conservatives wailing about American progress shoving every issue -- from abortion to prayer in schools, treatment of gays to treatment of women, the war on doobies to creationism in science class, and the environment to voter suppression -- down their authoritarian right-wing throats, sideways?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Because you lefties are Empire types who are fine with destroying planets and such to subjugate us.

    When bad things happen to the Dark Side of the Force, people are happier and more free than before.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Because you lefties are Empire types who are fine with destroying planets and such to subjugate us.

    No, no, no, the Empire doesn't destroy planets to subjugate us, they do it for The Greater Good. Think of all the jobs that were created by the massive infrastructure spending on building the Death Star. Plus, if broken windows is good for economic stimulus, broken planets must be ~1,000,000 better for the economy in the long run. /sarc

  • FlameCCT||

    Damn, you are definitely named appropriately!

  • TLBD||

    Epic douche-bag makes claim, against all evidence, that his team is responsible for all progress in America.

  • FlameCCT||

    That's just RAK being RAK (Royal Arse Kisser)!

  • Sevo||

    "How would anyone hear such scream, against the background of a half-century of conservatives wailing about American progress shoving every issue --"

    I don't know. Why don't you go ask some "conservatives"?

  • H. Farnham||

    Ya know... I'm beginning to think you're not even a real reverend.

  • FlameCCT||

    Pastafarian or something else made up like that!

  • Steve Bumgardner||

    Pastafarian preachers are as legitimate as any other kind. There's no kind of "Reverand" that's not made up by someone.

    Aargh! Ramen.

  • Harvard||

    Pastor Fuzz is my guess.

  • You're Kidding||

    Geez, can't go anywhere online these days without left wing plants ready to blast anyone who dares to speak other than that which is allowed by the PC left.

    Hey Rev, get over yourself. Most here abhor the left and the right. For good reason. They both want the same thing as you - to control us all to their benefit.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ Kreisberg.


    -Of course, when you have no real counter-argument just scream racist or Nazi. Or in this case, 'right-wing activist'.

    -A union boss forcing people to pay for something they don't want and claims it's what they want is basically mob double-speak.

    -Jefferson couldn't possibly have conceived of labour rackets. This is so preposterous I can't believe he said this in an interview. Publicly. For all to see. It's similar to the specious and facile argument the Founding Fathers could not conceive of assault weapons. It's a cheap, meaningless tactic on their part. Free speech? Pft! Madison could not have conceived the rise of the alt-right!

    - My wife is a teacher and she's forced to pay into something that's pure garbage. The health plan stinks, they rarely do the right thing as it's all about maintaining power and control and cold hard cash. They couldn't care less about the children and quality of education. They care about keeping their scam going. Give her back her money. We'll spend it better.

    I only wish we could do the same in Canada. The Ontario Teacher's Union is so rich and powerful they owned a stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Think about that for a second and let that fricken stew in your mind.

    Good luck! Here's hoping SCOTUS gives them a victory.

  • FlameCCT||

    There is no difference between Big Government and Big Union. Neither of them produce any goods or services that can be sold to the public; nor do they produce any revenue on their own. Instead they are like leeches, sucking on the life blood of the people so they can be 1%er millionaires with their extravagant salaries and bennies.

    IOW typical Progressive Plantation Elitist Masters and Uncle Tom Overseers using the force of government to control the Proletariat Serfs.

  • You're Kidding||

    Well, I did inquire on another forum - certainly not libertarian - an investment forum:

    "Riddle me this. What is the difference between a union and a gang?'

    The rage against me illuminated all the left leaning plants on a retirement investment forum.

    Imagine that. Supposedly there as good capitalists seeking help in setting up a retirement plan but taking umbrage at the implication that unions were just another form of a gang.

    Needless to say, no one had a convincing argument that union racketeering was any different than what gangs do. But they sure wanted to burn me and send me to the fires of hades for making such a suggestion.

  • Harvard||

    Explains why the Maple Loafs have sucked for decades.

  • silver.||

    Excellent points. The Stoss gave Kreisberg a smackdown by letting him run his mouth.

  • YerJohnson||

    - Jefferson also said that no corporate entity should last for more than 20 years because they'd acquire more power than standing armies. That really hasn't stopped them, has it?

    - Do you think the part about doing what's best for them and a shitty health plan would change if your wife wasn't in a union? That's

    - The employee, along with Stossel, did have free speech. They were free to say 'I quit.' If you really want to stifle 'free speech,' you should get yourself some 'right to work,' laws and see how they start working for you. I work for 'right to work' companies. by accepting employment, you're accepting anything that goes with it. Did Stossel leave that out?

    - Why should it be the employer's problem whether you want to be union or not? What's to stop them from asking for a fee anyway? They'll change it to be for them instead of the union.

    I think the pensions and benefits these people get is unfair to the corporate dogs and people who work for shitty small businesses. But, you don't have to be too bright to see the other way is going in reverse and inviting lots more low wage people into your countries, along with nice, long working hours, right back to robber baron days. So, essentially it is progress, but don't worry unions are being crushed. And now you get to pay those higher prices with lower wages. I'm sure your wife will love it, IF, and I really mean IF she even has a job. Have a good time.

  • You're Kidding||

    More "robber baron" myth?

    Please provide evidence of their collusion against everyone else?

  • Vernon Depner||

    Outlaw public employee unions.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Really bothered by the guys accusation that discussing moral costs rings of right wing activism.

  • TLBD||

    Morality needs to be crushed so that all is left is the law. Who controls the law?

    Again, it is claimed that persons are nothing but raw material. It is not for them to will their own improvement; they are incapable of it. According to Saint-Just, only the legislator is capable of doing this. Persons are merely to be what the legislator wills them to be. According to Robespierre, who copies Rousseau literally, the legislator begins by decreeing the end for which the commonwealth has come into being. Once this is determined, the government has only to direct the physical and moral forces of the nation toward that end. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the nation are to remain completely passive. And according to the teachings of Billaud-Varennes, the people should have no prejudices, no affections, and no desires except those authorized by the legislator. He even goes so far as to say that the inflexible austerity of one man is the foundation of a republic.

  • You're Kidding||

    I love you brave new world!

  • Mickey Rat||

    How about the implication that a teacher cannot be a right wing activist?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Come up with an implication of that statement and I probably find it asinine.

  • albo||

    How about if we outlaw government recognition of any public employee union? Government employees are protected by civil service already.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Even FDR was in favor of that.

  • GILMORE™||

    Oh Stossel, you big tease

  • Leslie the Bard||

    *Snort* Smart unions in "right to work" states have dealt with this, long since. I'll give you a hint; it has to do with "agency fees". Despite what "conservative" pundits may tell you, govts. have never been the friends of labor unions (or consumers' unions, for that matter), and unions have always had to work around them, so this latest trick is nothing new.

    This decision may backfire on the bosses, though. Hey, if you don't have to pay for services you don't want, can that apply to taxes and govt. departments too? Heheheheheh.

  • Steve Bumgardner||

    Right To Work is a typical political scam name for Right To Fire. Read the laws. They have nothing to do with your right to work and everything to do with the company's right to fire for any reason or no reason.

    Now, if you believe that a company is property and an employer should be able to do as they please with their property, fine. But we really should talk about the scam that is incorporation. You know, where the company is actually owned by a piece of paper so the owner(s) can hide from liability. I'm ok with that, but how is it the people who gave the company to a piece of paper suddenly want to assert their natural rights over their property. You know, the property they gave away. To avoid liability. Can you say "Have your cake and eat it too"?

    Right To Work may or may not be a good thing, but it has nothing to do with the worker having a right to work.

  • You're Kidding||

    I can "fire" my company for any reason. That's more than they can do with me. And, I'm not union. But, there are all those federal and state anti-discrimination laws that make me a protected class employee.


    As much as I disdain the techies that are all around my corner of the country, I will give them credit for their adoption of the "gig" economy. It's truly free trade. An honest day's work for an honest day's pay. And, no hard feelings when one party requests to terminate the partnership. Everyone just moves on.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I would be curious to hear how you would justify forcing someone to pay for a service they do not want?

  • R. K. Phillips||

    True, unions and governments can be at odds. But the union members, as VOTERS, are very valuable to a government. And government favors are very valuable to a union. Thus they blank each other's blank.

  • You're Kidding||

    Ding, ding, ding.

    Someone gets it. The uniqueness, if one can call it that, of the government unions is that they bargain with political patronage.

    I've faced this numerous times in my government work. A senator or congresscriter sends a rep to a planning meeting for a project that really isn't something they should be involved in. When inquire as to why they are there, they just say, "Senator so and so wants to be sure that the jobs on this project go to local people".

    I certainly don't have to tell folks here that's political patronage. Which, according to my MPA classes long ago, was supposed to have been thwarted by civil service rules.

  • Steve Bumgardner||

    People shouldn't be forced to join unions.

    Unions shouldn't be forced to negotiate contracts for non-members.

    Don't want to join the union? No problem by me. Now, negotiate your own contract with the company. Can't use the union's contract since negotiations cost money you don't want to give them.

    Do you want to steal from somebody or nobody?

  • mpercy||

    There's the "free-rider" issue, which you raise. But there's also a lot of union dues collected that are used for electioneering. If the SEUI ($39M), American Federation of Teachers ($33M), National Education Association ($29M), Laborers Union ($28M), Carpenters & Joiners Union ($27M), AFL-CIO ($19M), AFSCME ($15M), Plumbers/Pipefitters Union ($10M), IBEW ($10M), Operating Engineers Union ($11M) did not act as conduits of union dues to politicians' election campaigns perhaps the free-rider problem would be more persuasive.

    As it stands, no one should be forced to pay union dues that are going to be handed to politicians they disagree with.

  • You're Kidding||

    Wait, wait, wait! Where is that evil, money grubbing, politician controlling NRA in all of this?

  • mmmjv||

    John Stossel is worth about four million dollars. He's not just barely getting by pay check to pay check. Many working people are. And I mean real work not writing union bashing BS on the internet.

    These people who are being "forced to pay union dues" would end up a hell of a lot worse if they weren't being forced. If payment is voluntary why would anybody pay dues? And if nobody pays the dues the union dies. Who the hell is going to speak for the workers than? Who's going to be their advocate? It ain't gonna be John Stossel I can tell you that for damn sure.

    This is, on the right, an intense hatred, contempt, of low income working people. Or as they like to call them, "takers" or "moochers who think the government owes them a living". That's what this here is all about.

    "Stossel asked Friedrichs about that. Her answer: "I never asked for [union] representation...I don't see it as a benefit...the benefits aren't worth the moral costs.""
    So if the union negoiates a pay raise, or better working conditions, she's not going to accept that? How does that work out?

  • Paradigm||

    > This is, on the right, an intense hatred, contempt, of low income working people

    What a crock. I'm not a fan of public sector unions, because I have to participate in paying their salaries and benefits, but do not get a seat at the negotiating table. Instead an unholy alliance between them and Democrats decides how much I will have to fork over.

    Not one word of what I just said even hints at a hatred of low-income workers. Private sector unions are fine, but they're dying for a reason and it is NOT because of Republicans, libertarians, or conservatives. It's because private US companies have to compete with overseas entities, which wasn't the case in the 1950s-70s when union membership was strong.

  • You're Kidding||

    Yep. The only way we're ever going to see a slow down of the government union jaugernaut - the one that is actually bankrupting municipalities in my state as I write this is - when the salaries and benefits of the government union workers are up for approval by the general public that has to pay them.

    Right now, we have a fox/hen house scenario. The very administrators that negotiate with the public sector unions are under the thumb of their politician bosses AND they will also be beneficiaries of whatever compensation package is hammered out.

    I have many friends that are private sector union members who have no use for the public sector unions because they see their negotiated contracts as being excessive and unsustainable. Imagine that. One union brother seeing another as a robber.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Actually, many, many workers ARE "takers". Many DO believe that they are owed a living. This was taught to them by the government of the left.

  • You're Kidding||

    We all speak for ourselves. And, when we do, we're all better off.

    Equality of opportunity is not the same as equality of outcome................comrade.

  • You're Kidding||

    Other than taxes and government fees, what entity, other than unions with closed shop arrangements, force any of us to pay for something we are not interested in?

    In a nutshell, this is anathema to what we view as liberty.


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