A victory for unions in Friedrichs decision

The U.S. Supreme Court today delivered its long-awaited decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, affirming that public employers have a compelling interest in having strong and effective collective bargaining.

In this case, 10 California teachers backed by the virulently anti-union Center for Individual Rights sought to abolish the right of public employee unions — including the MTA and our local affiliates — to collect “agency” or “fair share” fees from employees who object to union membership. Those fees are used to offset the cost of bargaining on behalf of all employees, including the objectors.

“This particular attack on workers’ rights has energized union members, and we will continue to organize and strengthen our union.”

The court’s 4-4 decision leaves intact the court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which expressly rejects the argument that agency fee arrangements intrude upon a non-member’s protected rights of association or speech as well as the assertion that collective bargaining with a government employer is a political act that non-members cannot be compelled to subsidize.

MTA President Barbara Madeloni released the following statement:

Today’s decision is an important one. It affirms our belief that public-sector unions are essential for creating democratic workspaces, protecting workers’ rights and fighting for economic justice in our communities.

This particular attack on workers’ rights has energized union members, and we will continue to organize and strengthen our union, knowing full well that others will attempt to weaken our power.

Attacks from the right continue unabated, including cases similar to Friedrichs that are before state and federal courts. We can and will win when our members are active, lead and stand side by side with students, parents and our communities to demand the schools and communities we all deserve.