The National Right to Work Foundation urged the U.S. Supreme Court in a legal brief Monday to finally end forced union dues in the upcoming Friedrichs case.
The Foundation advocates for right-to-work polices by offering free legal assistance to workers. The policy, which has passed in 25 states, bans mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment. This is exactly what the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could potentially do for government workers.
“Drawing on decades of experience in the field of labor law, Foundation attorneys have filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to outlaw forced dues in the public sector,” Foundation President Mark Mix said in a statement. “In order to protect the rights of public servants who choose not to associate with a labor union.”
The case would be a huge victory for the Foundation. It could result in all government employees gaining right-to-work protections. In its amicus brief, the Foundation urged the justices to do just that. Despite the magnitude of the case, it was all started with a group of teachers from California.
Rebecca Friedrichs, while teaching out of Buena Park, Calif., tried to leave her union. She felt it benefited its members at the expense of the students. Though she could leave and forfeit most union benefits, she was still forced to continue paying into it.
“For too long, the rights of nonunion public employees have been trampled by states that require them to pay dues to a labor union just to get or keep a government job,” Mix added.
If the Supreme Court sides with Friedrichs, it would potentially overturn a case the Foundation lost nearly 40 years ago. The decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education meant public sector workers could be forced to pay a fee to a union. Though it is illegal to force workers to join a union, it is not illegal in 25 states and the federal government to have nonmembers pay a fee.
Also known as a “fair-share” fee, it is meant to cover the costs unions accrue through representing members and nonmembers alike. Critics, however, argue workers shouldn’t be forced to pay a union as a condition of employment.
It was in June when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Friedrichs case. For the Foundation and other advocates of worker choice, the case could mean the end of laws that restrict worker freedom. To opponents, however, unions are what gives workers a voice and limiting their power will be bad.
Supporters are optimistic the court will side with Friedrichs given recent decisions. Last year in the case Harris v. Quinn the court ruled Illinois state homecare workers could not be forced to pay union dues.
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