California nonunion teachers were allegedly forced to fund gay rights conferences and other progressive causes because their school union categorized the spending as nonpolitical.
The California Teachers Association (CTA) spent nearly 2.3 million to advance progressive causes between 2013 and 2014. The union allegedly didn’t categorize the spending as political, allowing them to charge members and nonmembers alike, The Daily Signal found Friday. Nonmembers can be charged representation fees but cannot be forced to cover political expenditures.
“Union bosses are notorious for bankrolling political causes that much of their membership does not support,” Center for Union Facts Executive Director Richard Berman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Big Labor sent nearly $420 million to Democrats and left-wing causes from 2012 to 2014, even though 40 percent of union members vote Republican in any given election cycle.”
The Supreme Court ruled in the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education unions can require mandatory payments in states that don’t have right-to-work laws so long as workers can opt-out of funding political activities. The CTA allegedly didn’t lists the spending as political when it funded gay rights conferences, sensitivity training and other forms of progressive activism.
“This is yet another example of union bosses violating public employees’ fundamental First Amendment rights,” Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told TheDCNF. “Union bosses should not be able to play games with teachers’ paychecks to fund their controversial political agenda.”
Timothy Sandefur, vice president of litigation at the Goldwater Institute, notes the argument might not be so clear-cut. While the law dictates workers can opt-out of union political spending, it doesn’t exactly define what political spending is beyond lobbying and endorsements. Sandefur notes it might come down to a lawsuit so judges can interpret the legal gray area.
“What qualifies as a political activity is arguable,” Sandefur told TheDCNF. “Under the present law a union can get away with these things until someone sues and the court has to decide whether its political or not.”
CTA has found itself in the spotlight before for not making a distinction between political and nonpolitical spending. Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other teachers sued the union for violating her right to free speech by spending dues on things they fundamentally disagree with. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case Jan. 11 but ruled against the teachers in a split decision.
The CTA did not respond to a request for comment by TheDCNF.
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