America’s most powerful union bosses are running a national smear campaign against 10 workers who fund their paychecks.
California teacher Rebecca Friedrichs and nine of her fellow educators are being vilified by executives of the country’s largest labor unions — including the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers.
Using money taken from workers’ paychecks, union bosses are portraying Friedrichs and her peers as allies of evil corporations and white supremacists.
How did Friedrichs turn these self-styled champions of teachers against her? She is challenging their ability to take mandatory fees from non-members, in a case that has made its way before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The case was brought by billionaires and wealthy CEOs like the Koch brothers who want to rewrite the rules to only benefit them,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.
America Works Together, a coalition run by NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is trying to convince union members that Friedrichs will ruin their lives.
“Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is being pushed by special interests and corporate CEOs in an attempt to damage protections for hard working families and our communities,” the coalition warns.
Last week, the unions flooded their social media channels with a public relations blitz, calling the Friedrichs case an attempt by libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch to destroy unions.
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America Works Together is gathering signatures for an AFT petition demonizing the Center for Individual Rights, a nonprofit giving Friedrichs legal counsel. As of Monday, fewer than 18,000 people had signed the online petition.
Relying on research from a City University of New York union, America Works Together asserts CIR “has been funded by the Koch Brothers, other right-wing one-percenters, and even white supremacists.”
CIR president Terry Pell told Watchdog.org the unions are “complaining about imagined contributions to CIR” to distract from their own massive paychecks. America Works Together failed to respond to a request for comment.
Last year AFT paid Weingarten $557,875, AFSCME paid president Lee Saunders $348,745 and AFL-CIO paid Trumka $322,131. Eskelsen Garcia was paid $345,728 as NEA vice president — outgoing NEA president Dennis Van Roekel was paid $541,632.
“Neither of the Koch Brothers or their foundations supports CIR or are supporting Friedrichs v. CTA,” Pell said.
“This is a fight on behalf of public employees like Rebecca Friedrichs and millions of other everyday public employees who are forced to fund organizations that no longer represent their interests,” he explained.
“Rebecca Friedrichs is asking the Supreme Court to do away with state laws that force individuals to pay thousands of dollars a year to a union,” Pell said. “The unions have enjoyed millions of dollars in coerced dues from unwilling employees for decades.”
F. Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy director at the free-market Mackinac Institute, told Watchdog.org the union smear campaign against Friedrichs shows labor bosses are terrified about the possibility of losing forced dues.
“It’s funny that the unions are saying Friedrichs is an attack on working people when it’s really about taking away the unions’ ability to get a worker fired,” Vernuccio said. “It is a protection of workers, not an attack on workers.”
If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs, Vernuccio said, the effective result would be right-to-work for public employees in all 50 states. Twenty-five states already have right-to-work laws.
“Right-to-work simply means a union can’t get a worker fired for not paying them,” he explained. “It doesn’t affect collective bargaining in any other way — and it doesn’t affect a worker’s ability to form a union or join a union in any way.”
Calling the union PR campaign against Friedrichs “strange,” Vernuccio predicted “the justices will likely uphold the Constitution and workers’ First Amendment right to not support politics they disagree with.”
A decision in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association is expected in the spring.
About the Author: Jason Hart is an Ohio-based labor reporter for Watchdog.org. He previously worked as a communications director for Media Trackers Ohio. Jason had several years of experience as a web developer and analyst before starting a successful career in journalism. Jason can be reached on Twitter at @jasonahart and by email at email@example.com. This article originally appeared in Watchdog.org and is republished here with permission.
The NEA convention had its humorous moments as well as a very disturbing one.
The National Association Education’s yearly convention, which wrapped up last week, was mostly a tame affair with not much worth writing about. But NEA executive director John Stocks did provide some unintentionally comedic moments. His boiler plate lefty political ranting included solemn affirmations about “the insidious entitlements of white privilege” and the evils of “income inequality.” The latter is especially amusing since the latest available NEA tax filing reveals that Stocks’ total yearly compensation is $505,288. But upon further review, maybe his “income inequality” gripe has some merit. American Federation of Teachers president and fellow inequality-griper Randi Weingarten made $543,679 during the same time period. So maybe Stocks is irked about the $38,391 gap.
Then there were Stocks’ shout-outs to such fringe groups as Occupy Wall Street, all of which led Stocks to start screaming – not passionately – just screaming about how we are now in a “movement moment.” (The last time I experienced one of those was after eating some bad clams.)
For an organization that may well be on the verge of losing its forced dues racket and have to moderate its message to actually woo customers, Stocks’ talk was far out in left field, and surely turning off moderates and right-of-center members. For more on his talk, read Jason Hart’s account on Watchdog.org. If you have the stomach to watch to the whole 25 minutes, you can see it here.
Far scarier than Stocks’ talk was the recipient of NEA’s “Social Justice” award, one Jose Lara, dean at LA Unified’s Santee Education Center and a member of the United Teachers of Los Angeles board. The award honors the union member who “demonstrates the ability to lead, organize and engage educators, parents, and the community to advocate on social justice issues that impact the lives of students, fellow educators, and the communities they serve.” While “social justice” has as many definitions as people using the term, perhaps the most accurate comes from the Urban Dictionary:
Promoting tolerance, freedom, and equality for all people regardless of race, sex, orientation, national origin, handicap, etc… except for white, straight, cisgendered males. F*** those guys, they’re overprivileged no matter what.
That Lara was chosen as anything but “Leftist Indoctrinator-in-Chief” is a joke. On Memorial Day weekend in 2010, Lara, then a teacher, took his students to Arizona on a “field trip” to protest the state’s new immigration law. In a YouTube video, Lara is seen standing in front of a wall-to-wall mural featuring a Who’s Who of murderous revolutionaries, including Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, while proudly displaying the motto Patria o Muerte, Venceremos!!! (Fatherland or Death, We Shall Overcome!!!).
Lara’s radical activities have been well-documented since then. His latest coup was in November 2014 when he led a successful charge to get “ethnic studies” classes added to LAUSD’s graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2019. This move will serve to resegregate schools with each ethnic group separating itself from the general population. At a time when we desperately need to become more united at as a people, ethnic studies classes will further balkanize us.
But it’s really much worse than just ethnic studies. Lara’s brand comes with a radical hate-America, class warfare agenda. In his five minute acceptance speech for the NEA award, he made his thoughts known. He talked about, “fighting for the most vulnerable and oppressed in our community” and that the culture has been guilty of “institutional racism” by “keeping students from learning about their own history.”
Left in the hands of Jose Lara and his ilk, ethnic studies will become pure Alinsky fare, a never-ending barrage of revolutionary, America-bashing screeds, serving only to keep us in race, ethnicity and class ghettos.
That the NEA champions this type of indoctrination is reprehensible. Rich lefties like John Stocks, who laud the Occupy socialists and the Lara-type revolutionaries don’t know what they are in for. As Churchill said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” Whether Stocks is an appeaser or a true believer, he, as card-carrying one-percenter, will in time become croc fodder.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.