ON-Lion Letter

In November, a lawsuit filed by the Center for Individual Rights (CIR) in Washington, D.C., challenging compulsory union dues for teachers came a step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals allowed for expedited judgment in the case.  The rapid decision in favor of the unions allows for the case to potentially reach the Supreme Court in 2015.

On behalf of 10 California teachers and the Christian Educators Association International, CIR is suing the California Teachers Association (CTA), arguing that a state law requiring her to pay a monthly fee to the group in order to work as a teacher violates her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.  The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, has the potential to gravely weaken public-sector unions around the country by making right-to-work laws the norm nationwide.

Currently, 26 states have laws that force public employees to make payments, called "agency fees," to their union even if they personally refuse to become a member.  Legally, these agency fees are only supposed to help cover the cost of collective bargaining, and must not be directed towards a union's political goals.

CIR is arguing that in practical terms, however, it is impossible to divorce modern collective bargaining from broader political concerns.  Several collective-bargaining positions taken by the CTA, such as its opposition to merit pay and fierce defense of teacher tenure and other job-security provisions, according to the argument, are really political positions that prioritize the interests of certain teachers over the wider interests of taxpayers. 

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports CIR.

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