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NEFW Spotlight: Teachers File Lawsuit Against Their Union
posted by: Alana | August 13, 2014, 10:15 PM   

In honor of our second annual National Employee Freedom Week - a nationwide campaign offering an unparalleled focus on the freedoms union employees have to opt out of union membership - we are sharing stories of teachers who have exercised their rights and have chosen the organization that best meets their needs.

Rebecca Friedrichs is a California public school teacher and lead plaintiff in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. She and 9 other teachers are the first ever plaintiffs to challenge the constitutionality of union agency fees. And ironically, the union is using her involuntary dues money to fund the court battle against her.

These teachers are going toe-to-toe with CTA because they want to overturn Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education – a Supreme Court ruling which found that non-members may be assessed dues for "collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment purposes.”

Right now in the state of California, teachers pay compulsory dues averaging $1,000 annually. They can opt out of the “non-representational” political portion of the dues (about 35%), by becoming “agency fee-payers,” but they cannot opt out of the collective bargaining portion of the dues (about 65%).

Friedrichs believes that the increasingly political nature of union practices is encroaching her first amendment right to free speech and free association.

This is what Friedrichs has to say about her experience:

“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.

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.

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.”

The suit, currently at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, is just one step away from the Supreme Court.

AAE is in full support of Friedrichs’ court case. We believe that no teacher should be forced to pay dues to an organization whose agenda doesn’t align with their values. Nor should they ever be compelled to fund such efforts against their will.

Teachers know they need protection via professional educator liability insurance and legal services; however, non-partisan alternatives like AAE offer the protection a teacher needs but at a fraction of the cost.

Teachers have options. And National Employee Freedom Week is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on those options for teachers no matter what state they’re in.

Featuring a diverse and nonpartisan coalition of state-based and national organizations, National Employee Freedom Week empowers employees with information to make the decision about union membership that's best for them, including identifying non-union alternatives that better advance their profession. Check out the National Employee Freedom Week's website to learn about union membership in your state and how you can opt out. Join the movement and share your story!

Tell us about your union experience in the comments below!
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written by Mariam Noujaim California, December 20, 2014

Rebecca Friedrichs can you please contact me? I am suing SEIU 1000 to audit their books. Stay Strong

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