Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Coming Soon to a State Near You: Another Attack on Unions with Right to Work Suits

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld mandatory union fees in the past, but supporters of the new lawsuit point to language in last year's Knox v. SEIU calling fees "a form of compelled speech... that imposes a significant infringement on First Amendment rights." ... From article below on threat to California teacher unions
The declining participation [in elections] is both a product and a symptom of our union’s weakness. More importantly, it poses an existential threat to the future of the UFT.... An attack from a Tea-Party dominated legislature is unlikely in blue New York. However, a decertification drive from “reform” groups such as Educators For Excellence or Children First is a possibility. Can we be certain that the 82% of active members who don’t care who our union president is will vote to continue paying $100 per month in union dues if given the choice not to? .... Kit Wainer on MORE blog 
Thanks to Jeff Kaufman for this. This is a sign of things to come, maybe even here in NYC. With a conservative anti-union Supreme Court I can see the day where unions are basically wiped out. I have even heard from anti-Unity people supporting the end of compulsory union dues as a way to kill the undemocratic nature of the union. That is true but it would also kill the patient.

But can't you see that with 82% of classroom teachers not giving a crap about voting in the elections, an appeal to get rid of the over thousand dollar yearly dues, especially to newer teachers at low salaries would work?

People in MORE have been worried enough about this issue to open internal discussions. Kit Wainer posted an excellent analysis at the MORE blog. Here is Kit's conclusion:
The Unity leadership has turned off the membership and that may soon pose a serious crisis for the UFT as a whole. As some MORE members have pointed out, by acquiescing to the new evaluation procedure, Mulgrew has negotiated contractual concessions without anything in return — not even a contract. Invariably, the state and the city will want more in the very near future and the UFT leaders no longer have the ability (assuming they had the desire) to mobilize the membership to defend what rights we still have. Worse still, the 18% turnout among active members in the 2013 UFT election is a signal that the membership’s lack of investment in the UFT has now reached crisis proportions. This opens the possibility of a direct challenge to the very existence of the UFT. In the national climate of declining union membership and state legislatures moving to eliminate collective bargaining in historic union strongholds such as Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, to ignore the possibility of an assault on our collective bargaining rights would be foolish. An attack from a Tea-Party dominated legislature is unlikely in blue New York. However, a decertification drive from “reform” groups such as Educators For Excellence or Children First is a possibility. Can we be certain that the 82% of active members who don’t care who our union president is will vote to continue paying $100 per month in union dues if given the choice not to? By failing to mobilize our members for the kind of fight we should be waging in this political climate the Mulgrew regime is endangering the very union it leads. That is nothing short of grotesque dereliction of duty.

I'm sure this is an astroturf type thing like Parent Trigger backed by the same people.

California teachers suing to end mandatory union dues


Los Angeles - Ten teachers and the Christian Educators Association International have filed a lawsuit in California to stop the practice of teacher's unions collecting dues from non-members. 

Filed on April 30, 2013 in United States District Court for the Central District of California by the Center for Individual Rights, the lawsuit names the California Teachers Association (CTA), the National Education Association (NEA), ten local affiliated unions and local school officials as defendants. 

At the heart of the lawsuit is the concept of the "agency shop." The agency shop is a contractual agreement between an employer and a union in which the employer is free to hire both union and non-union workers. No employee will be forced to join the union, but the union may collect a payment from non-union employees to help finance the cost of collective bargaining. This payment is called the "agency fee." 

In 1988 the Supreme Court placed limits on the agency fee, ruling in Communications Workers of America v. Beck that non-union workers could not be forced to contribute to politica l causes. They must be permitted to "opt out" of political activity.
The lawsuit filed by the Center for Individual rights, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, challenges the constitutionality of California's agency shop law. It contends that the agency fee forces non-union teachers to subsidize "expenditures and collective-bargaining activities are contrary to Plaintiffs’ personal interests and political beliefs." 

In compliance with the 1988 Beck decision, California teachers may officially "opt out" of paying fees to support the Union's political activities. The p laintiffs in the lawsuit claim the "opt out" process is difficult and intimidating.
In an interview with Courthouse News Service in May, California Teachers Association spokesman Frank Wells called the lawsuit "another baseless attack on the concept of agency fees." 

He defended the opt-out process, saying that teachers were mailed a form each year and simply asked to return it. 

"There's not a lot of hoops that they have to jump through," he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld mandatory union fees in the past, but supporters of the new lawsuit point to language in last year's Knox v. SEIU calling fees "a form of compelled speech... that imposes a significant infringement on First Amendment rights."

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