Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has never been one to shy away from how much he supports big labor including Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld mandatory union payments.
Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other teachers said mandatory union payments violates their right to free speech. The court upheld the mandatory dues Tuesday by coming down to a split decision. With a split decision the ruling defaults to the lower-court which rules against the teachers. Perez praised the decision as a victory for workers and unions.
“Supreme Court ruling is an important victory for public employees, for their right to have a voice at work, for their right to stand together and speak up for the things that matter to them, their families and their communities,” Perez said in a statement. “Unions have enabled public sector employees to secure a foothold in the middle class.”
Perez said the case sought to prevent workers from joining together to fight for their rights as a union. The teachers and their lawyers said they aren’t trying to destroy unions but rather provide workers a choose on whether to join. Teachers are technically public sector employees, so a decision in favor of Friedrichs could have set a precedent for all government workers.
“Despite a robust economic recovery, government employment hasn’t rebounded as private sector jobs have,” Perez said. “[The] ruling will mean greater economic stability for millions of families. It’s a critical step toward creating shared prosperity and a balanced economy that works for everyone.”
Perez has often said unions are what provide employees a voice at their workplace. President Barack Obama and Perez hosted an entire summit Oct. 7 to discuss how important unions are to workplace rights. Republican lawmakers have said the Department of Labor has become aggressively more pro-union under his watch.
While unions have fought for many of the rights employees enjoy today they also have fought for things workers oppose. Friedrichs has said her union has often fought for political ends the likes of which she fundamentally disagrees. For instance she learned early on how hard it was to fire bad teachers strictly because of union policies.
Justice Antonin Scalia was believed to be the deciding vote against required union payments but he passed away Feb. 13. The teachers and their lawyers have already expressed interest in retrying the case. The teachers hoped to reverse 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which allowed unions to require mandatory payments.
The CTA has claimed it’s only fair to require mandatory union payments. Unions that get voted in as the exclusive representative for a workplace are required by law to represent all the workers regardless of whether they pay dues. They can become member only unions but then they lose the right to have monopoly privileges over a workplace against other labor groups.
Perez did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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