Will Union Members Stay if Friedrichs Wins Case against CTA?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The United States Supreme Court announcement that it will consider the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case next fall produced handwringing and dire predictions that this could result in the end of public unions. Those who make those statements must think that the public unions are not offering representation that their members want. If the court sides with teacher Rebecca Friedrichs who opposes mandatory union dues, mandatory dues would end but voluntary union dues can continue. If the union does what the members want they will continue to get support.

David Savage’s article in the Los Angeles Times, which covers the circumstances around the case well, quotes Friedrichs, “I don’t have a voice or vote in the union, and I’m opposed to forced fees and forced unionism.”

Friedrichs and other teachers involved in the lawsuit do not approve of positions the union takes and object to their dues paid into the CTA treasury for positions with which they disagree. While teachers can opt out of dues directed to the union for political purposes, many have argued that the line is blurred between the union’s political activities and work-related representation.

Not wanting to pay money for issues with which one disagrees is a reasonable position. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions, which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”

While this bit of wisdom appeared in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom the sentiment can clearly apply to the protesting teachers situation.

If the case is successful – something that is far from certain – there is no telling how many union members will call it quits. CTA is certainly concerned with the outcome. Last year, CTA prepared a working paper titled, “Not if, but when: Living in a World without Fair Share.” The document predicted loss of revenue and membership if the system titled “Fair Share” requiring mandatory dues was overturned by a court.

In such a circumstance, members would have a choice on whether to support the union. Then the union will have to prove its worth to members.

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