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Press Release



February 15, 2017

Association of American Educators Lawsuit to Protect Freedom of Association Could End Forced Union Dues

Alexandria, VA – The Association of American Educators (AAE), the largest national, non-union teachers’ association, and eight of its California member educators filed a lawsuit last week against the California Teachers Association challenging the constitutionality of California’s “agency shop” law. “Agency shop” arrangements violate educators’ First Amendment guarantee to free speech and free association by forcing public school teachers to support powerful teachers’ union efforts to advance their political agenda through collective bargaining.

The lawsuit, Yohn v. California Teachers Association, asks the courts to respect the teachers’ First Amendment right to choose without fear or coercion whether or not to join or fund a labor union. The hundreds of dollars non-members are forced to pay to the union as a condition of employment in California schools is a clear violation of educators First Amendment rights, since the unions used those coerced payments to advance their policy agenda when bargaining with the government.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of AAE and eight California public school teachers by The Center for Individual Rights (CIR), the same non-profit public interest law firm that represented Rebecca Friedrichs and other California teachers in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which was heard by the United States Supreme Court last year. That lawsuit ended in a tied, non-binding opinion following the sudden passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, leaving the matter unresolved, but drawing significant attention to this important issue.

Following the case filing, AAE Chairman and President Gary Beckner issued the following statement:

“This is an historic moment for the Association of American Educators and freedom of choice for educators in California­ and beyond. Founded as alternative to the partisan politics and collective bargaining of the teacher labor unions, AAE has provided a professional option for teachers seeking a voice that puts students first for over two decades. This lawsuit is a monumental next step for those educators seeking true freedom of association.

Our member educators have been vocal about the injustices of agency shop laws for years. Teachers are diverse individuals who deserve the right to select an association that matches their budget and beliefs. For far too long, the political activity of the teachers’ unions has been prioritized over the rights of universally-respected professionals.

AAE was proud to rally our members for this worthy cause. Mr. Ryan Yohn and the other longtime AAE member plaintiffs are champions for the rights of all California educators. We are honored to stand together and we look forward to this case progressing in the months ahead.”

To schedule an interview with AAE to discuss AAE’s role in Yohn v. CTA and AAE’s commitment to each educator’s right to choose their professional association, please email

Ryan Yohn et al. v. California Teachers Association et al., was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division.


About the Association of American Educators (AAE)

The Association of American Educators (AAE) is the largest national, non-union, professional educators’ organization dedicated to fostering the transformation of the teaching profession by empowering and supporting our community of professionals for the benefit of our students and the nation. AAE envisions a teaching profession that is student-oriented, well-respected, and personally fulfilling. Membership is $16.50 per month which includes $2 million professional liability insurance, employment rights coverage, professional development resources as well as a host of other benefits. Visit for further information.

About The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) 

The Center for Individual Rights (CIR) is a nonprofit public interest law firm that defends individual rights, with particular emphasis on civil rights and free speech. CIR provides free legal representation to deserving clients whose individual rights are threatened. Learn more about CIR’s work at