In a move sending shivers through the skin of organized labor unions across the country, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Rebecca Friedrichs is a teacher in California public schools who says the thousands of dollars that, for nearly 30 years, she has been forced to pay a labor union, have been coerced funding of an organization that she does not support.
If the court rules in her favor, then unions will no longer be able to force professionals who are not members to pay what labor activists call a “fair share fee” just because they are paid according to terms negotiated by the union. In some cases, the fee can be as much as dues; in others, the dues are reduced by some presumed percentage that goes specifically to political advocacy, as distinct from negotiation and member services.
People who watch politics, particularly at the local and state levels, can see that labor unions are wholly political organizations, at least in the public sector. Indeed, one could argue that labor services are merely their method of raising funds and building manpower, with a raison d’etre of pushing partisan and ideological political issues. That is a large part of the reason that organizations like the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, for which this writer is research director, have signed on to an amicus briefencouraging the Supreme Court to come down on Friedrichs’s side.