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Friedrichs v. 2.0? U.S. Supreme Court May Get a Second Chance to Free Teachers from Forced Unionism

Friedrichs 2.0? Supremes May Get a Second Chance to Free Teachers from Forced Unionism

Government Unions v. Everyone Else

ALEC, ISTA and Indiana

The teachers unions continue to pound the anti-ALEC drum, this year in the Hoosier State.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is an organization of state legislators, business leaders and other concerned Americans dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism. In the education sphere, ALEC holds that parents should be in charge of their children’s education by allowing them to have choices – charter schools, voucher programs, tax credit scholarships, education savings accounts, etc. – that would “allow each child the opportunity to reach his or her potential.” Furthermore, ALEC believes that workers should not be subjected to forced unionism.

Of course the nation’s teachers unions paint ALEC as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad organization. In the National Education Association’s pantheon-of-evil, ALEC dwells alongside its most loathed: Rebecca Friedrichs, Scott Walker and the Koch Brothers. In a barrage of anti-ALEC webpages from NEA, we learn, among many other things, that the group favors education privatization so that greedy corporate types can make bundles from little Johnny and Janie, while learning their ABCs. (Just how the schools are somehow supposed to turn into corporate cash cows is not addressed.)

Teacher union activists have come to picket ALEC’s yearly meetings with a self-righteous fervor that makes the true believers glow with pride. Last July in San Diego, Barbara Dawson, a middle school history and English teacher, proudly proclaimed, “They (those attending the ALEC conference) couldn’t have missed it. We were beating drums, yelling and chanting in front of the hotel.”

Yeah, nothing like beating drums and yelling to advance your cause. That’ll learn the capitalist bastards! In a more sober moment, Helen Farias, a local union leader from the Sweetwater Education Association intoned, “The types of legislation ALEC promotes will create a two-tiered educational system, one for the privileged and one for the rest of us.”

Of course, Ms. Farias has it exactly backwards. We already have a two-tiered system, whereby rich people can afford to send their kids to private schools, but due to the Big Government-Big Union duopoly, not-so-rich folks don’t have that option in most places.

Last week, the yearly ALEC meeting was held in Indianapolis, and the unions got a “four-fer.” Not only did the faithful get a chance to express their displeasure with ALEC, they got to do it in a state that has an extensive voucher program as well as tax-credit scholarships. Additionally, Indiana houses EdChoice (formerly known as the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice), the preeminent school choice outfit in the country. But wait, there’s more! The Hoosier State is also home to Republican Party vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence, who is an ardent school choicer.

This year’s union festivities included a twitter storm and a march (braving the heat!) by Indiana State Teachers Association members and sympathizers to the Marriott where the ALEC meeting was being held. The union also issued a special invitation. “While supplies last, we will give two free game tickets (to a minor league baseball game), food vouchers and t-shirts to ISTA members who register early.” The event, held on “Public Education Night” was a tepid affair where partying seemed to be the highest priority. Best of all, Indianans were spared the drum circle at all the protests.

But on a serious note, please keep in mind that while it was the ISTA bosses who bribed their members to come out and protest, the goodies were paid for by union members themselves. Worse, according to David Wolkins, an Indiana legislator, former teacher and public sector co-chair for ALEC, in addition to the swag, ISTA used Craigslist to hire civilians to show up and protest ALEC, paying them $30 a day.

Then there was an opinion piece in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette last week in which Wolkins reminded us of the hideous and criminal mismanagement by ISTA of its members’ insurance fund. As Mike Antonucci reported in December 2013, “The state of Indiana finalized a settlement with the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) in which the union will pay $14 million to 27 school districts. The settlement arose from an estimated $23 million the ISTA insurance trust owed those districts for misuse of their premiums.”

Also, ISTA has been busy in the Indiana State House this year, where it successfully managed to kill House Bill 1004 which among other things, which would have allowed school districts to pay teachers more money in shortage areas without having to consult the local teachers union.

So as ALEC continues to fight for taxpayers, parents and kids, ISTA – as all teachers unions do – looks to preserve its power and influence…at the expense of taxpayers, parents and kids.

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.

The DivIdes of March

My latest battle against a teacher union leader….

Last month, Rebecca Friedrichs, lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the California Teachers Association that was recently heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, and I were invited to talk about her case on Inside OC, a public affairs TV show in Orange County. Rebecca was given the first half of the show solo and the second half would see me debating her case against an unspecified union representative. I agreed to participate and was stunned a few days later when the show’s host, Rick Reiff, told me in an email that my sparring partner would be none other than CTA President Eric Heins.

After years of debunking teacher union spin, it’s always a pleasure to go face to face with these folks and expose their distortions. My first opportunity in this realm came in New York City in March, 2010 when Terry Moe, Stanford professor and expert-on-all-things-teachers-union, captained a debate team which included former Secretary of Education Rod Paige and me. Our opponents were Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a school superintendent from Southern California and a teacher from Massachusetts. In the town where the modern teacher union movement was hatched, we won the debate handily; in fact we clobbered them. In a review of the debate, University of Arkansas professor and esteemed education reformer Jay Greene referred to it as a smackdown.

Three years later in March, 2013, I shared a stage in Mountain View with Moe again, former California State Senator Gloria Romero, who regularly battled the teachers unions during her time in Sacramento, and Heins’ predecessor at CTA, Dean Vogel. Though not a debate, the event sponsored by the Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley, saw sparks fly at various points as the three of us refused to let Vogel get away with any of the usual union bromides.

Now, three Marches later, I am going face-to-face with yet another union leader. The always articulate Rebecca kicked things off, talking for 15 minutes about the lawsuit – the tragedy of Justice Scalia’s death, her hope that the case will be reargued, the problems she had trying to make her dissident voice heard as a union member, the immorality of teachers unions protecting bad teachers and the fallacy of the free-rider argument.

Then Heins, who had a dislocated shoulder and had flown in from Burlingame to be a participant, got five minutes which he used to note what he claims to be the positive aspects of teachers unions – how teachers like Rebecca benefit from collective bargaining, that teachers unions benefit kids, etc.

At about 20 minutes in, I appear and do my best to refute Heins. I asked him why, if the union is so beneficial to teachers, they must be forced to pay dues. He claimed that it is because the union must represent all teachers. I had to remind him that exclusive representation is something demanded by – not foisted on – the unions.

When Heins again glorified the value of collective bargaining, I was tempted to rebut him, but refrained, and emphasized that the case is not at all about collective bargaining but rather about teachers’ freedom of choice. Heins then brought up the old “labor peace” argument, which to me is akin to Al Capone negotiating with Elliot Ness, with the Mafia Don explaining that, “You want peace? Let us partner with you.” Bad argument, because it makes the unions sound like extortionists, but then again….

The subject of tenure came up, and of course Heins immediately used the softer sounding phrase “due process,” though he did let its accurate name “permanent status” slip in once. He then extolled the virtue of the three man panel that considers and decides the fate of teachers accused of wrong-doing. But I countered that the panel is made up of two teacher-union members and an administrative law judge – all hand-picked by the union. Hardly a fair process.

At the end of the segment, Heins just had to dredge up the Koch brothers, signaling that the discussion has jumped the rails. The program came to an end at that point and there was only time for me to respond with an eye-roll. Fortunately, however, we were able to continue our discussion for another nine minutes, which is available on YouTube. We picked up on Heins’ Koch-bashing and I pointed out that the biggest political spender in California is not the Kochs or some large corporation, but rather CTA, whose political gifts are about double the second largest spender, also a union – the California State Council of Service Employees, a branch of SEIU.

Heins then veered into how democratically union decisions are made and that they respect minority views. I asked him if the union respected a Republican minority view and he assured me it did. I mentioned that his predecessor claimed that CTA membership was about 65 percent Democrat and 35 percent Republican. I asked Heins what proportion of their political giving goes to Republicans. He insisted that all their spending “is based on education policy” and that they support some Republicans. This is mostly a crock, but I did not bring up the following to refute him as we got side-tracked. What I wished I had said, was that about 97 percent of CTA political spending goes to Democrats, with the remaining crumbs going to the GOP. More importantly, I did not bring up where so much CTA spending goes. Despite Heins’ insistence that it based on education policy, it is not. For example, CTA has spent millions on initiatives to get drug discounts for Californians, to regulate electric service providers, to raise the corporate tax rate in the Golden State, etc. (The last one is especially hypocritical as CTA doesn’t pay one red cent in taxes.) The union also spent well over $1 million of teacher union dues fighting for same sex marriage.

I suggested that the union regularly buys politicians at which point Heins smiled and said that my comment was “cynical spin.” Hardly. We then discussed seniority which Heins thought was quite fair, while I, along with many other reformers, think it is an abominable way to make staffing decisions.

At the end of the session, Reiff said, “We needed an hour!” and he was right. There was way too much ground to cover in such a brief time. The following day I sent a message to Heins telling him I would be willing to do an hour with him anytime, anywhere. I have yet to hear back.

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.

Friedrichs vs. the CTA Ruling Could Restore Free Speech Rights of Government Workers

In less than one week the U.S. Supreme Court will begin to hear arguments in the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, to determine whether unions can force public employees to fund speech through collective bargaining with which they might disagree. The case could result in a landmark decision impacting the First Amendment rights of millions of public sector workers nationwide. The California Policy Center joins hundreds of other organizations and millions of individual activists in urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the plaintiffs.

If the justices rule in favor of Friedrichs, the decision would not only take away government union’s ability to get public employees who do not pay them fired in the half of the states – most definitely including California – which do not have right-to-work, but would allow public workers to opt out of their union without needing to renew their objection every year. Here in California, the decision, which is expected in June 2016, would impact well over 1.0 million state and local public employees who are currently unionized.

The Friedrichs case rests on the argument that anything and everything that public employee unions negotiate is inherently political. We couldn’t agree more. To state an obvious example, negotiations between unions and elected officials over public employee pensions and pay are arguments over how elected officials should use public money – an inherently political question. Conceding to demands for higher salaries during an economic downturn – or at any time, for that matter – is a political choice. When public employees make more, either other services are cut, or taxes are increased. These are political decisions, not mere employer/employee issues.

While how public agencies spend taxpayers’ money is obviously a matter of public policy, the work rules negotiated by government unions also are inherently political. Union negotiated rules governing California’s system of public education provide examples of this in the form of “lifetime tenure” – awarded after less than two years in the classroom, dismissal procedures that make it nearly impossible to fire incompetent teachers, and “last in first out” layoff policies that reward seniority over merit. Conscientious teachers can be forgiven for believing these union rules, among others, are public policy decisions, inherently political, that have harmed California’s children. Yet they are forced to pay to support the unions who negotiated these rules.

The Friedrichs case, despite an avalanche of well-funded propaganda from unions, is not about whether or not unions even belong in the public sector. The point of the Friedrichs case, again, is that everything that public sector unions negotiate for is inherently political. And because they are inherently political, public employees should not be forced to fund these unions if they don’t want to, because that is a violation of their First Amendment free speech rights. You don’t have to restrict the scope of your argument to the explicitly political activities of government unions to make this case. Because everything government unions do, everything they fight for, affects government policy.

As a result, members of government unions should not be merely permitted to opt-out of the acknowledged “political” portion of their union dues, the amounts spent on political campaigns and lobbyists. They should be allowed to opt-0ut of paying all of it, including the so-called “agency fee.” And because these unions have made the “opt-out” process a difficult bureaucratic ordeal, where members can only opt-out during a certain limited time each year, and have to do that over and over again in order to have the non agency fee portion of their dues refunded to them, year after year, paying union dues should instead depend on an “opt-in” process. This would mean the government unions themselves would have to obtain affirmative consent, year after year, in order to continue to collect dues from government workers.

Government unions are not just inherently political in everything they do. Their agenda is inherently in conflict with the public interest. Unlike private unions, government unions elect their own bosses. Unlike private unions, government unions can demand pay and benefits without having nearly the same concerns about how that may impact the financial health of their organization. And unlike private unions, government unions run the government bureaucracy, which means they can more easily intimidate their opponents. For these reasons, perhaps the Friedrichs case doesn’t go far enough. But it’s a very good start.

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Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.

RELATED POSTS

The Unions’ Assault on Truth, November 3, 2015

California’s Official Antipathy to Educational Innovation and Accountability, August 11, 2015

Tough Education Reform, not More Borrowing and Spending, is What Students Need, August 4, 2015

The CTA Empire Strikes Back, July 28, 2015

Union Monopoly on California’s Public Education Remains Largely Unbroken, February 16, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Union Leadership Smear Teachers in Supreme Court Case

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.

AFT president Randi Weingarten has called Friedrichs part of an “assault on working people.” NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia has accused Friedrichs of “attacking working people.”

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.

Pell was not surprised to see unions portraying the Friedrichs case as “a corporate attack on workers” in interviews, social media posts, graphics and a propaganda film titled “The Right to Unite.”

“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 jhart@watchdog.org. This article originally appeared in Watchdog.org and is republished here with permission.

Collective Bargaining Disagreement

Collective bargaining serves neither students, competent teachers, nor taxpayers.

A new study reveals that collective bargaining for teachers has a negative effect on future earnings, occupational skill levels and hours worked. Writing in Education Next, researchers Michael Lovenheim and Alexander Willen dissect the long-term ramifications of states that mandate collective bargaining for teachers. While they find no clear effects of collective bargaining laws on how much schooling students ultimately complete, their results do show that laws requiring school districts to engage in the process with teachers unions lead students to be less successful in later life. “Students who spent all 12 years of grade school in a state with a duty-to-bargain law earned an average of $795 less per year and worked half an hour less per week as adults than students who were not exposed to collective-bargaining laws. They are 0.9 percentage points less likely to be employed and 0.8 percentage points less likely to be in the labor force. And those with jobs tend to work in lower-skilled occupations.”

The researchers did a meticulous job adjusting, when necessary, for ethnicity and gender. They also took into account school finance reforms and changes in the generosity of state earned-income tax credits. But taking all the variables into account made little difference in the results, and indeed strengthened their confidence that collective bargaining is responsible for the effects they document.

This is not the first study that found collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) to be detrimental to students. In 2007, Stanford professor Terry Moe reported that collective bargaining “appears to have a strongly negative impact in the larger districts, but it appears to have no effect in smaller districts (except possibly for African American students—which is important indeed if true).”

Frederick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, and Martin West from the Brookings Institute point out that CBAs “are vestiges of the industrial economic model that prevailed in the 1950s, when assembly-line workers and low-level managers were valued less for their knowledge or technical skills than for their longevity and willingness to serve loyally as a cog-in-a-top-down enterprise. Collective bargaining contracts are especially problematic on three fronts: 1) they restrict efforts to use compensation as a tool to recruit, reward and retain the most essential and effective teachers, 2) they impede attempts to assign or remove teachers on the basis of fit or performance and 3) they over-regulate school life with work rules that stifle creative problem solving without demonstrably improving teachers’ ability to serve students.”

In this brief video, Stanford researcher Caroline Hoxby details in practical terms how CBAs stifle any management flexibility in determining the best slot for a teacher at a given school as well as denying them the opportunity to get rid of the underperformers – rigidity being the hallmark of CBAs.

So if CBAs don’t do much for students, they surely must benefit teachers, right? Well, no, and they especially penalize the good ones. Low pay, excessive bureaucracy and ineffective colleagues are all attributable to CBAs and anathema to great teachers and high-performing schools. And we lose thousands of our best educators as a result.

Wage compression,” occurs when the salaries of lower paid teachers are raised above the market rate, with the increase offset by reducing pay of the most productive ones. “Why strive to become better if I am not going to be compensated for it?” is the attitude of many. Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Institute takes it one step further, claiming CBAs hurt the bottom line of all teachers. He compared teachers’ salaries in districts across the country which allow collective bargaining with those that don’t. He found that teachers who worked in districts where the union was not involved actually made more money than those who were in collective bargaining districts. According to Petrilli, “Teachers in non-collective bargaining districts actually earn more than their union-protected peers – $64,500 on average versus $57,500.”

CBAs don’t do much for taxpayers either. Professor Joe A. Stone of the University of Oregon writes “In an average California school district, 85 percent of the district’s operating budget is tied to collective bargaining contracts, for both certificated and classified personnel.” (Over Fifty-five percent of California’s general fund expenditures – over $63,000,000,000 – is targeted for education.)

University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene sums it up quite succinctly. “Until the ability of teachers unions to engage in collective bargaining is restrained, we should expect unions to continue to use it to advance the interests of their adult members over those of children, their families, and taxpayers.”

One final note: Union leaders and their fellow travelers love to spread the myth of the “right” to collectively bargain. In fact, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently announced that he is leading a coalition of 20 states and the District of Columbia in filing a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to deny Friedrichs and maintain forced dues payment for public employees. In a press release, Public Advocate Letitia James said, “Collective bargaining is a fundamental right. I join Attorney General Schneiderman in supporting this right, and standing up for collective bargaining.”

But there is no “right” to collectively bargain. David Denholm, president of the Public Service Research Foundation, writes that the “right” is non-existent. He writes, “Collective bargaining is a legislated privilege given to unions by friendly lawmakers.” (“Friendly” in this case, of course, means those put in office by the people sitting across from them at the negotiating table.)

CBAs are wrong for kids, wrong for good teachers and wrong for taxpayers. But they sure work well for union bosses, many of whom make fat salaries that most teachers are forced to pay for the “right” to be exclusively represented by them. Some bargain.

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.

U.S. Supreme Court to Rule – Is Government Unionization a Free Speech Issue?

Since the Supreme Court has the power to stir up controversy like few other American institutions, public debate about government unionization is certain to intensify in coming months. This fall, the justices will take up Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which concerns the question of whether public sector workers can be required to pay “agency” fees to unions for collective bargaining expenses. Rebecca Friedrichs, an Orange County schoolteacher, believes that compulsory agency fees violate her First Amendment right not to subsidize speech to which she objects. Depending on how, and how broadly, the Court rules on this question, Friedrichs could be the most consequential labor case since at least the 1970s.

Allowing public employees to unionize has to be one of the worst policy ideas of the last 50 years. But to frame the issue as one of free speech is to overlook the fact that government unions do the greatest harm to the public, not individual government workers. Unions paralyze administrations, bankrupt cities, stifle local political life, and flout sovereignty. A ruling against the California Teachers Association would be a far greater victory for the cause of good government than for the First Amendment.

All discussion about public unions is shaped to some degree by labor’s decline in corporate America. Over the last three decades, private unions have lost members at a clip of roughly 150,000 per year on average. The collapse of private unions, a once reliable and wealthy constituency for the Democratic Party, has been an enormous political boon for public sector unions, because it increased demand for their resources. This decline has also neutralized Democrats’ ability to object to government unionization on principle. Back when the steel, coal, and autoworkers unions had real clout, many Democrats were openly opposed to expanding unions’ reach into the public sector. In a 1937 letter to the President of the National Federation of Federal Employees, President Franklin Roosevelt famously and forthrightly explained why “the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” But, having just signed into law the National Labor Relations Act and spearheaded other union-friendly initiatives, FDR could say that without anyone accusing him of being anti-worker. Now, however, the Democratic Party can’t point to any significant achievements in strengthening unions, because no one has any good ideas about how to revive labor in the private sector. Their union bona fides are nothing like FDR’s were, so even Democrats who have serious misgivings about government unions’ right to exist must tiptoe around the point.

This is unfortunate, because Democrats, who hold most state and local offices in blue America, often grasp the nature of problem with special clarity. In Lessons of Hope, his memoir about serving as Michael Bloomberg’s schools chancellor, Joel Klein writes “[l]ike anyone who first encounters the teachers’ contract in New York City, I had trouble believing that certain parts of it were real.” Klein marveled at how poor teachers were not fired but “excessed.” Their jobs were eliminated “ostensibly through no fault of [their] own,” and they were sent off to find and claim an open position at some other unfortunate school, against the wishes of that school’s principal and even if it meant bumping a new teacher out of a job. (An annual ritual in many school systems, this “dance of the lemons” practice is featured in the 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman.) Never having worked in city government before, Klein was continually amazed at the United Federation of Teachers’ stunts, but these bizarro-world labor rules have been in place for years, among a variety of professions, and across the unionized public sector. Buzz Bissinger relates in his 1998 book A Prayer for the City that the Philadelphia Police Department “couldn’t hire sketch artists but instead under union rules had to give police officers art lessons.”

Unions have placed onerous workforce regulations into contracts through collective bargaining negotiations as well as into state laws by applying political pressure. Both tactics are daunting to overcome. Unlike with agency fees levied for collective bargaining purposes, a union non-member can opt-out of funding what the Supreme Court calls “political or ideological projects.” But, under current law, unions are allowed to collect dues for these purposes unless workers explicitly object. Since only a small percentage go to the trouble of doing so, the money keeps flowing in. The Center for Responsive Politics maintains a list of the “Top Organization Contributors” to federal political campaigns, parties, and other groups since 1990. Three out of the top six slots are occupied by government unions. Unions’ “taxing power” is an even more effective weapon on the state and local level. In 2012, California voters nixed Proposition 32, which would have prohibited unions from automatically deducting dues intended for political purposes. Unions and their allies spent $73 million to defeat this ballot initiative, $21 million from the California Teachers Association alone.

As for reforming workforce regulations via collective bargaining, the problem there is that almost nothing comes for free. Even changes with overwhelming public support often must be offset by some compensating financial advantage. In 2007, the autopsies of two Boston firefighters who died in a fire revealed traces of alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. City government moved during the next bargaining round to institute random drug and alcohol testing for all firefighters but was thwarted until, following an arbitrator’s ruling, it agreed to grant a quid pro quo pay increase of 1.5 percent.

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In California the average urban firefighter earns pay and benefits well in excess of
$200,000 per year. These unaffordable rates of pay make it impossible to hire
more firefighters, undermining their safety and the safety of the public.

City budgets are mainly devoted to salaries and benefits which are, in turn, determined by collective bargaining contracts. Authorizing collective bargaining in the public sector means creating entities not only with an incentive to maximize their own benefit at the expense of taxpayers, but, in the case of union leadership, a legal obligation to do so as well. To fail to push city budgets to the brink of insolvency, and sometimes beyond, is, for union leadership, tantamount to leaving money on the table. Though no local government has declared bankruptcy since Detroit in June 2013, the ongoing struggles of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools show that it’s only a matter of time before the next surge of municipal insolvencies. As Kristi Culpepper, a Kentucky state official and influential public finance analyst recently explained to Bloomberg, “Can you imagine a scenario where the CEO of a large corporation announced that the corporation is approaching insolvency, and the employees responded by asking for a raise? That is what is happening with Chicago Public Schools.”

A government with a unionized workforce is not truly sovereign; its commitment to the public is qualified by its legal commitment to accept collective bargaining. I once attended a city council meeting that took place while contract negotiations were underway and witnessed a series of the city’s duly elected officials stand up and publicly plead with union leadership to settle on reasonable terms. Who is in charge here?

Public employee unions are often likened to Tammany Hall, but the comparison is unfair—to Tammany Hall. For all their flaws, the old political machines reliably turned out voters and thus kept levels of civic participation high. During the era of rule by government union, local voting rates have plummeted. According to New York City’s Board of Elections, turnout in mayoral elections has declined from over 90 percent in the early 1950s to 26 percent in the recent 2013 election. Unions contribute substantially to voter apathy through bolstering one-party rule by Democrats. Far from being discontent over consistently uncompetitive elections and the lack of rival interest groups, unions celebrate their success at stifling local democracy: “We elect our bosses” boasts the American Federal State County Municipal Employees union in its promotional materials. Even at the height of their power, labor legends like Walter Reuther of the United Autoworkers and John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers of America could not have made that claim.

States could quickly restore sanity to government budgets and administrations by rolling back their public labor laws. But that’s unlikely. With the federalist solution to government unionization unavailing, it therefore falls to the Supreme Court to save states from themselves.

The Left’s tendency to see the argument against government unionization as an attack on all organized labor is somewhat understandable, in that conservatives do often conflate the cases against public and private labor. Conservatives oppose unions because a weaker labor movement means a weaker Democratic Party and, in their view, a stronger economy, and because “compulsory unionization” cannot stand as a matter of principle. The Right tends to insist that under no circumstances should any worker, ever, be required to pay a cent in dues or fees to a union to which he does not wish to belong. “Right-to-work” laws, such as exist in 25 American states, prohibit compulsory fees.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association argues for the essential justice of right-to-work within the government employment context by raising the question of whether states’ public labor laws violate the First Amendment, and in the Roberts Court it may find a receptive audience. The conservative justices, Alito in particular, have painted a target on Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), which relied on earlier decisions about private labor disputes to uphold the constitutionality of agency fees for government workers. The Abood Court saw no reason why, if the avoidance of free-ridership and the promotion of labor peace justified the existence of the private-sector agency shop, the same reasons would not apply equally well in the case of Detroit’s public schools.

Justice Alito believes that the Abood Court was not sensitive enough to the First Amendment concerns surrounding the imposition of agency fees in the public sector. Why does the law protect a teacher’s right to withhold financial support from a campaign to protect seniority when her union pursues it through lobbying but not when it does so at the bargaining table? In recent jurisprudence regarding narrower public labor questions, Alito has gone out of his way to question Abood’s reasoning. Writing for a 7-2 majority in Knox v. Service Employees International Union, Local 1000 (2012), he stated that “The justification for permitting a union to collect fees from nonmembers—to prevent them from free-riding on the union’s efforts—is an anomaly.” And it’s not only agency fees that Alito has a problem with on First Amendment grounds, but also unions’ legal ability to rely on an “opt out” system of dues collection: “An opt-out system creates a risk that the fees paid by non-members will be used to further political and ideological ends with which they do not agree.”

Friedrichs contemplates a future in which government unions function in a manner somewhat like Planned Parenthood, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the National Rifle Association. These groups are often vilified for their political influence despite depending heavily, if not exclusively, on annual appeals to donors for their funding. Some conservatives even argue that right-to-work strengthens unions, because leadership must work harder to earn members’ dues. Perhaps. It’s difficult to imagine that public unions’ decline will be as precipitous as private unions’, if for no other reason than school districts aren’t economically vulnerable like the steel and auto industries were. Nonetheless, decades of experience with right-to-work states attests that unions are weaker when they lack the power to tax workers.

To put a human face on things, Friedrichs is about the firefighter who believes that, during contract negotiations, when city managers say they can afford a 2 percent but not a 5 percent raise, they’re being sincere and not just poormouthing, as his IAFF local alleges. Or the teacher who would be happy to accept a higher salary in exchange for less-stringent job protections, while watching union leadership pursue the opposite course funded by her agency fees. The agency fee regime is particularly unjust to young teachers who are compelled to financially support “last-in-first-out” (LIFO) contract provisions that explicitly threaten their own interests. Again, younger teachers can prevent unions from using their money to support LIFO through lobbying, but at the bargaining table they have no such right of refusal.

Compulsory agency fees should offend all freedom-loving Americans. That said, should the Court rule against Friedrichs, it would be a minor defeat for the First Amendment, but a catastrophe for future generations still burdened with trillions in pension debt, failing school systems designed to maximize benefits for their adult workforces rather than the children forced to attend them, and once-great cities bankrupted by rapacious compensation demands. These are the parties who have faced the full brunt of government unions’ strategy of “concentrated benefits, diffuse costs,” and thus have the most riding on Friedrichs’s outcome. After their decades-long run of systematically plundering state and local budgets, nailing government unions on First Amendment violations feels a bit like going after Al Capone for tax evasion.

About the Author:  Stephen Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for State and Local Leadership. Steve received his doctorate in political science in Boston College and previously was a Senior Research Associate at the Worcester Regional Research Bureau. His research focuses on public employee unions, retirement benefits, public finance, and urban policy. This article originally appeared in “The American Interest” and is published here with permission from the author.

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.

Will the Supreme Court Do an “Abood Face?”

The decision in Harris v Quinn could be just the first shoe to drop in the fight against forced union dues.

Last month was not kind to Big Labor. First, the teachers unions in California had some of their favorite work rules knocked out of the state constitution by Judge Rolf Treu in his Vergara decision. Then, on the last day of the month, the Supreme Court agreed with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in Harris v Quinn and ruled that homecare workers could not be forced to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Vergara upset the teacher union Pooh-Bahs who just can’t believe that educators who hang on to their jobs for 16 months aren’t entitled to them for life, regardless of whether they’re good, mediocre or teachers from hell. The decision is going to be appealed and no one knows –  if the appeal fails – how the subsequent replacement laws will play out. But if Vergara got the unions in a snit, Harris has pushed them into apoplexy.

Regarding Harris, I searched the internet long and hard to find a statement from a union leader that went something like this:

The decision doesn’t harm the union movement in the least. It gives hard working men and women the freedom to choose whether or not to join us. If they do join, they will enjoy the benefits and perks that come with union membership. If they choose not to join, we will not force them to. They are free to make whatever deal that they and their employer agree to. As patriotic Americans, we believe in liberty and that means giving all workers a choice.

Okay, I confess. I really didn’t search long and hard. In fact, I didn’t search at all; it would have been a complete waste of time. Instead, we were treated to union leaders doing what they usually do when they don’t get their way: trot out the usual half-truths, fear-mongering and lies to rally the troops and garner public sympathy.  Chalkbeat reports,

‘This court has built a record of weakening the rights of both voters and working families; no one should be surprised by this decision,’ said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten in a statement.

Weingarten is saying  that one working family has a right to force a member of another working family into a union.

Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, defended the ‘fair share’ practice. ‘Fair share simply makes sure that all educators share the cost of negotiations for benefits that all educators enjoy, regardless of whether they are association members.’

There is nothing fair about forcing a worker to pay dues to an organization that he or she does not want to belong to.

The NEA website goes deeper into the “fair share” philosophy:

All union members who enjoy the benefits, rights, and protections of a contract should, in fairness, and must, according to Illinois state law, contribute to maintaining that contract. Sometimes called ‘agency fee,’ fair share is a percentage of full union dues, based on the actual cost of collective bargaining, contract maintenance, and other services provided to all union members. 

Well yes, all those who benefit from the union contract, should pay dues. But if they don’t want any part of your contract, why are you trying to force them to pay you?

Mind you, Harris was a narrow decision. Justice Samuel Alito’s ruling drew a distinction between the home care workers and ‘full-fledged’ public employees

… who were required to pay union dues under the Court’s Abood v. Detroit Board of Education precedent in 1977. In that sense unions dodged a more sweeping decision that could have jeopardized dues payments from all public workers.

But – and this is what’s scaring the spit out of unionistas – Alito added that Abood (which maintains that it is illegal to withhold forced dues from dissenters beyond the cost of collective bargaining) is “questionable on several grounds.” Collective bargaining issues, he wrote, “are inherently political in the public sector.”

In the private sector, the line is easier to see. Collective bargaining concerns the union’s dealings with the employer; political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government… But in the public sector, both collective bargaining and political advocacy and lobbying are directed at the government. (Emphasis added.)

Clearly, Alito left the door open for the court to do something of an “Abood face.” The next shoe that drops could lead to the unions’ worst nightmare – making union membership optional nationwide. (At this time 26 states are forced union states, while 24 are right-to-work.)

In fact, that “next shoe” is awaiting a fitting. Friedrichs et al v CTA is on a path to reach SCOTUS within a year or two. 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 activities, though – as per Abood – paying for the unions’ political agenda is not mandatory. The plaintiffs’ lawyers are challenging the law, claiming collective bargaining is inherently political and that all union dues should be voluntary.

Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, a public interest law firm representing Rebecca Friedrichs and her co-plaintiffs, was upbeat after the Harris ruling was announced.

Today’s decision is a good sign of things to come. The Court will soon have before it another union dues case, one that asks it to recognize the First Amendment rights of all employees to decide whether to pay union dues, not just home healthcare workers.

He importantly added,

We’re not attacking collective bargaining. … That’s not at issue. All we’re saying is individual teachers get to decide whether to pay dues to that organization. You can have collective bargaining and you can have a strong union, but you don’t have to have compulsory dues.

If Friedrichs is successful, and the court overturns Abood, workers will have a choice. To paraphrase President Obama, “If you like your union, you can keep your union.” But if you don’t, you can’t be forced to join. Freedom of choice – sounds like the American way to me.

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 with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

Teachers Stand Against Union Tyranny

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Yet, because of laws that favor powerful unions and “labor peace” over the rights of individuals, millions of public school teachers have lost their rights to free speech and free association. We are required, as a condition of employment, to financially support teachers unions and their political agendas.

Americans of all political preferences would rise up against such tyranny if their rights were squelched by corporations, yet teachers unions have been legally trampling the free-speech rights of teachers throughout our nation for decades through forced dues used to fund their one-sided political agendas. This practice is unconscionable; especially considering that unions are tax-free “corporations” who long ago abandoned the individual rights and desires of their members.

For years, many brave teachers have attempted to make our voices heard within our union leadership, but unfortunately, the union we’re compelled to hire as our “representatives” doesn’t value our personal liberties. Ten teachers in California have had enough. We’re suing the California Teachers Association and its affiliate, the National Education Association, to obtain freedom from compelled support for unionism.

Ironically, the union is using our involuntary dues monies to fund the court battle against us.

When unions started, at the turn of the last century, their united support for individual rights was needed and welcomed. Sadly, unions have become what they used to fight – powerful, entrenched organizations more focused on self-preservation and pushing their political agenda than on protecting the rights of individual members.

In education, the behavior of unions is even more horrifying because, in addition to the obliteration of teachers’ constitutional rights, our students suffer even greater injustices as the unions use their ill-gotten billions to promote political policies that often create negative consequences inside and outside of the classroom.

The union is currently taking a stand that puts the rights of sex offenders and kidnappers over the rights and safety of school children. NEA, the largest, most powerful teachers’ union in America, came out against a bipartisan bill that would prohibit convicted sex offenders, murderers and kidnappers from working in schools. I don’t believe in allowing these people in our classrooms and neither do the teachers I know; however, we’re all forced to financially support this dangerous and shocking position.

Unions continue to tell the public that teachers who disagree with their politics have no real complaints because they can “opt out.” Tragically, what they neglect to mention is that we can only opt out of the portion of the dues the union decides are political. We are not permitted to opt out of the collective bargaining portion of the dues, yet much of collective bargaining is political.

Every penny on the bargaining table is provided by hardworking taxpayers, yet, shockingly, unions force teachers to fund policies that are often harmful to taxpayers and the children they’re working so hard to support.

Teachers who exercise their right to opt out of the unions’ acknowledged political dues are still required to pay approximately $650 annually for highly political collective bargaining. In return, fee payers are bullied, treated as outsiders, labeled “nonmembers” and lose all “rights of membership” including liability insurance (although they’re still paying for the liability insurance of the union hierarchy). Fee payers lose their voting privileges within collective bargaining, and the right to serve within union leadership. So, although they pay full collective bargaining fees, they’re completely voiceless.

Because of powerful collective-bargaining agreements with school districts, the union has control over teachers’ email and staff mailboxes. Unions censor and decide what communications teachers are able to send and receive, so it’s easy to control members by withholding vital information.

Teachers are often in the dark about how their money is being spent in the political process both inside and outside of collective bargaining. When dissenting teachers try to share liberating information with their colleagues through district communication channels, those teachers are subject to discipline by district administration.

The unions also use fear to influence teachers into supporting union causes. Teachers are subjected to constant political manipulation during mandatory staff meetings at which they’re strong-armed on issues such as opposing school choice for children. Then the unions spend tens of millions of teacher-funded dollars, and use the pressured assistance of teachers as political “boots on the ground” to help block the passage of student-friendly ideas like vouchers. Any teachers who find the courage to share opposing views on union political issues are subject to intimidation and shamed into silence.

When teachers ask how they can avoid supporting the union’s political agenda, they’re told to check a box on their union membership form. This “check the box” system was dreamed up by the unions many years ago when they added an additional $20 “contribution” to teachers’ union dues, which already average $1,000 a year. Checking this box gives teachers a mere $20 annual refund from the union’s “voluntary” PAC funds.

This sleight of hand is confusing many teachers who honestly believe they’re opting out of union politics by checking a box when, in fact, they’re still giving approximately $350 of their annual dues toward the union’s admitted nonrepresentational political agenda, and another $650 a year in mostly political collective bargaining fees. Since many of these teachers have moral beliefs and fiscal standards that place them on the exact opposite side union politics, this practice is unethical and shady at best.

Rebecca Friedrichs is an Orange County educator and one of the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. This originally appeared as a guest editorial in the Orange County Register and appears here with permission from the author.

Stop forcing teachers to join unions

My students and I begin each morning reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. We proudly salute the banner of our great nation because we believe in “liberty and justice for all.” A disturbing truth haunts me during each pledge, however. Laws that favor unions over the needs of many students and teachers are robbing us of our promised “liberty and justice.”

Webster’s online dictionary defines liberty as “the quality or state of being free; positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges; the power of choice.”

In 26 states, teachers are denied civil liberties by being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. To make matters worse, much of the dues are used to rob those teachers of justice.

In California, dues average $1,000 a year. Unions admit that more than 30 percent are used for “non-representational” politics that have nothing to do with serving their members. Furthermore, collective bargaining has become so political that many teachers believe the amount spent on political action is considerably higher than the 30 percent to which unions admit.

Sadly, much of the political activity leads to laws and practices that are harmful and objectionable to many teachers, their students, and the taxpayers who not only have to pay unions through tax-funded teachers’ salaries, but are hit again when union politics lead to increased taxes and undesirable laws.

Many Californians are shocked by the passage of AB 1266, which, beginning Jan. 1, will allow transgender students in K-12 schools to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their “gender identity.” Teachers don’t want to harm or single out transgender children; however, teachers are protectors of all children in their care.

In order to give special protection to a very small minority of students, the great majority of children will be subjected to embarrassment and shame. As teachers learn of this law, many oppose it; however, the California Teachers Association (CTA) supported it fully, using the dues of its members.

Unions say that teachers who disagree with their political agenda can “opt out,” and become “agency fee payers.” Tragically, what they neglect to mention is that teachers who exercise their rights to free speech (by opting out of the “non-representational” political portion of the dues) are still required to pay approximately $700 a year. In return for these massive dues, fee payers are bullied, treated as outsiders, labeled “non-members,” and lose all “rights of membership” including liability insurance, voting privileges, and the right to serve within union leadership.

Furthermore, teachers are supposed to be grateful for unsolicited collective bargaining assistance that often creates negative work environments and leads to laws that protect incompetent teachers, increase taxes, and harm students.

In May 2013, nine children filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to challenge union-initiated laws that make it difficult for all students to access high-quality teachers. CTA and California Federation of Teachers (CFT) filed a motion to intervene, and were allowed to join as defendants against the children. Many teachers are cheering for the kids, but sadly, our forced dues are being used to fight against the very children we desire to protect.

As teachers, we have attempted to make our voices heard within our union leadership for years, but unfortunately, our personal liberties aren’t valuable to the union we’re forced to hire as our “representative.” As a result, nine other teachers and I are suing CTA and its affiliate National Education Association (NEA) to obtain freedom from forced unionism. Ironically, the union is using our dues to fund the court battle against us.

There are real-life consequences stemming from legal authority given to unions to collect forced dues. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” My friends and I lost our rights to “liberty and justice for all” the day we became teachers. This week we celebrate the “California Teacher Freedom Project;” it’s my hope that freedom-loving Americans will stand up for the individual liberties of all employees forced into unions.

Rebecca Friedrichs is an Orange County educator and one of the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. This originally appeared as a guest editorial in the Riverside Press-Enterprise and appears here with permission from the author.