NRTW Urges Supreme Court to Strike Down Public Sector Forced Union Dues


National Right to Work Foundation files brief in Friedrichs arguing that compulsory union dues for civil servants are incompatible with free speech

Washington, DC (September 14, 2015) – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) brief in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, urging the United States Supreme Court to outlaw forced union dues in the public sector.

Nearly 40 years ago, the Court ruled in the Foundation’s Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case that public-sector workers can be compelled as a condition of employment to pay union fees for workplace bargaining. Since then, National Right to Work Foundation-assisted workers have repeatedly challenged government union officials’ forced-dues privileges.

On June 30, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Friedrichs, a case brought by several longtime California public school teachers and the Christian Educators Association. The plaintiffs are challenging a state law that requires them to pay union dues and fees to keep their jobs, despite the fact that they are not members of the California Teachers Association and disagree with many of the union’s policies.

The Friedrichs plaintiffs rely on two recent, Foundation-won Supreme Court decisions, Knox v. SEIU and Harris v. Quinn, to bolster their case. In both instances, the High Court hinted it was ready to revisit the Abood precedent and expressed skepticism about the constitutionality of public sector union officials’ forced-dues privileges.

The Foundation’s brief contends that civil servants should not be forced to pay union dues simply because union officials have chosen to bargain for all employees – nonunion and union alike – in a given workplace. They also point out that “exclusive representation” actually confers significant benefits on union officials, who are empowered to negotiate with the state and receive tremendous influence in the workplace, and therefore have no justification for collecting mandatory contributions from nonunion civil servants.

“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 in order to protect the rights of public servants who choose not to associate with a labor union,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “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.”

Source: The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation