Interview With Rebecca Friedrichs – Fighting for Teacher Freedom
In April 2013, the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), as noted on their website, “filed suit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California on behalf of 10 California teachers and the Christian Educators Association International, challenging the constitutionality of California’s “agency shop” law, which violates the First Amendment by forcing public school teachers who are not members of the union to nonetheless pay annual dues. The suit was filed against the lead defendants, the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA), as well as ten affiliated local teachers’ unions, and local school officials.”
By December 2013 the case had moved from district court to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and it is now poised to move to the U.S. Supreme Court and could be heard as early as April 2015.
This case has the potential to dramatically change the rules governing public sector unions; how they acquire members, and how they collect dues. Education reformer Larry Sand, in an essay entitled “Will the Supreme Court End Forced Unionism?,” writing for Heartland, had this to say about the case:
“This litigation has ten teachers and the Christian Educators Association International—a union alternative—taking on the California Teachers Association with a lawsuit aimed squarely at California’s “agency-shop” law which forces teachers to pay dues for collective bargaining, although—per Abood—paying for the unions’ political agenda is not mandatory. The plaintiffs’ lawyers argue collective bargaining is inherently political and thus all union dues should be voluntary.”
Friedrichs was recently interviewed by Fox News correspondent Tucker Carlson. What follows is the transcript of their interview. Click here to view the video.
INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA FRIEDRICHS
Carlson: A group of California teachers is suing the CTA, the California Teachers Association, the biggest union in the state, for using their union dues for political donations. They claim the union has no right to spend their money on candidates they disagree with. Joining us now is the lead plaintiff in that case, Rebecca Friedrichs. Thank you for joining us this morning.
Friedrichs: Hi, thanks for having me Tucker.
Carlson: So you’ve been in the union for decades in California, the most politically powerful union that gives more money to candidates than any other union, and you’ve watched your dues go to things you disagree with. Have you complained about it?
Friedrichs: Yes I have Tucker, here in California teacher’s rights are being trampled upon. We have no right, we are forced as a condition of employment to pay these fees, and I started complaining about that immediately at the beginning of my teaching career, after as a student teacher I watched as an older teacher who had tenure – which gave her permanent employment – was treating her little first graders horribly. It was horrible to watch. So I started complaining right away and I was bullied and shunned, and I even became a union rep., and complained to the union officials, they bullied me as well, and that’s when I realized it was hopeless to try to change things within union culture. As teachers, we should have the right to decide for ourselves who to support and where our money should go politically.
Carlson: Just like every other American, but the union takes a series of very predictable left wing positions, some of which have nothing apparently to do with education or teaching, for example, spending I think more than any other group on the gay marriage proposition. No matter what side you’re on, it’s kind of hard to see what that has to with teaching.
Friedrichs: That is very true Tucker, the unions are so out of touch with what is going on in the classroom and with what’s going on in California and the nation, and they get involved in any far left progressive cause. That’s where they sit, with far left progressive causes, and it doesn’t matter whether it has anything to do with my job, it doesn’t matter to them whether it harms my students. It’s their political agenda, I pay for it, teachers across America are paying for this agenda. We believe that’s wrong. We believe it’s time to consider the individual rights, instead of the rights of these unions to spend their money on their agenda at our cost.
Carlson: So just to back up and ask the most obvious of all questions, schools exist and taxpayers support them for only one reason, and that’s to educate children. Do you think the CTA helps kids in California?
Friedrichs: I do not. They’re out of touch. One of the things that the unions fight in California – they fight tooth and nail, to the tune of multiple millions – they fight parental choice in education. I don’t understand that. A parent should have a choice to place a child in a school that’s best for that child. And if a school is underperforming, that family should have the right to place the child some place where that child is going to learn. You can only do first grade once, you can only do fourth grade once, you don’t get another chance. The unions fight parental choice. I don’t get it. They don’t exist to protect children, they don’t exist to protect teachers, they exist to push their own agenda – in my opinion – at the expense of children and teachers. And that is why it is time to set aside the rights of these big unions and bring back the rights of the individual. Give us our constitutional rights to freedom of speech.