ON-Lion Letter
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two consolidated cases that may help determine the degree to which unions can compel employees to pay union dues.  In Davenport v. Washington Education Association (WEA) and Washington v. WEA, the Court is hearing the appeal of a controversial Washington state supreme court ruling last year that the WEA has a First Amendment right to spend the mandatorily collected dues of even non-union teachers for political purposes without those members’ permission.

Past U.S. Supreme Court decisions have recognized that when non-union members are compelled to pay dues, their dues money cannot be used to fund the union’s political speech and activities.  It has required unions to permit nonmembers to “opt out” of having their fees used for any purpose not germane to the union’s collective-bargaining responsibilities.  The Washington State statute at issue requires that nonmembers affirmatively “opt in” to having any of their dues fees used in these ways.

If the Court upholds the Washington decision, moreover, right-to-work laws in other states might be in constitutional jeopardy.

The appeal was brought by Washington State and a group of teachers represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in Springfield, Va., to which The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation provides substantial support.  The matter dates back to an initial complaint against the WEA filed by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Wash., which the Bradley Foundation also supports.

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