The presidents of America’s two largest unions have vowed to fight tooth and nail against a lawsuit now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court which, if successful, could strike down a California law permitting mandatory union membership.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit assert that the mandatory-dues law forces teachers to finance union political positions. Thus, the plaintiffs say, the law violates the First Amendment rights of teachers who disagree with the union’s politics.
The Supreme Court granted certiorari for the suit, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, on Tuesday.
“We are disappointed that at a time when big corporations and the wealthy few are rewriting the rules in their favor, knocking American families and our entire economy off-balance, the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America — that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life,” National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García and United Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten declared in a joint statement.
“When people come together in a union, they can help make sure that our communities have jobs that support our families,” the union leaders also claimed. “It means teachers can stand up for their students. First responders can push for critical equipment to protect us. And social workers can advocate effectively for children’s safety.”
At no point in their joint statement do García and Weingarten come close to addressing the First Amendment claims actually raised in the lawsuit.
“Moms and dads across the country have been standing up in the thousands to call for higher wages and unions,” García and Weingarten added. “We hope the Supreme Court heeds their voices.”
The actual suit involves a teacher, Rebecca Friedrichs of Buena Park, Calif., who — along with several co-litigants — believes union culture is largely detrimental to the interests of students. The suit was first filed in April 2013.
“I’m hoping we will be a huge step in restoring liberty,” Friedrichs told The Daily Caller News Foundation earlier this year. “I hope we’ll start a ball rolling towards more freedom.” (RELATED: How A California Teacher Just Became The Biggest Threat To Big Labor)
“The question of whether teachers and other government employees can be required to subsidize the speech of a union they do not support as a condition of working for their own government is now squarely before the Court,” Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told TheDCNF.
The statement by García and Weingarten (and three other union bigwigs) included statements from four union members who support teachers unions politically. (Just one of these union supporters resides in California. Two are from Massachusetts.)
Meanwhile, the NEA has zealously endorsed a constitutional amendment that would dramatically limit the ability of groups that aren’t unions to spend money speaking about politics.
The NEA has strongly criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which held that the First Amendment prevents Congress from limiting independent political expenditures by corporations and other entities.
For the 2014 election cycle, the NEA spent $29,908,414 in an attempt to influence U.S. politics, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The NEA has also been heavily involved in supporting a militant group in Wisconsin that spends its time and energy organizing angry anti-police protests. The group, Wisconsin Jobs Now, received $125,000 from the teachers union in 2014 alone. (RELATED: OWN IT: ‘ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS’ SIGN Shows Up At NEA-Funded Protest)
Meanwhile, Weingarten of the United Federation of Teachers is most well-known for living a life of luxury despite her frequent criticism of economic inequality. She makes at least $360,000 per year. This salary puts her squarely in the top 1 percent of all Americans. (RELATED: Teachers Union Fat Cat Lives In America’s Top 1 Percent, Blames Baltimore Riots On INEQUALITY)