Monday, May 18, 2015

Anti-union groups target California teachers » peoplesworld

Anti-union groups target California teachers » peoplesworld:

Anti-union groups target California teachers

SAN FRANCISCO - Pro-corporate education anti-union groups have taken aim at California teachers unions with two separate lawsuits - one of which would strip away the right for unions to collect "fair pay" or "agency fees" from non-members; and another which  argues the right of workers to be represented by the union, and to vote in union elections, but to not have to join the union or pay agency fees.
The first of these suits, Friedrichs vs California Teachers Association - currently on appeal at the United States Supreme Court, would strip away the right upheld in Abood vs Detroit Board of Education for unions to collect "fair pay" or "agency fee" funds from non-members of the workplace union, which are fees deducted automatically from the paycheck that match the amount of the union dues. 
The plaintiffs in the case argue that union dues, fees, and the process of collective bargaining itself constitute political activity that potentially violates their freedom of speech, if they disagree with the decisions of the union and how funds are deployed by the union. 
The Center for Individual Rights, a conservative law firm representing the plaintiffs in Friedrichs, gives an optimistic assessment of their success in the case, based on the recent past decisions on labor by the USSC:
"In 2010, a majority of the Court signaled that the time may have come to revisit this approach. In Knox v. SEIU567 US ___ (2012) Justice Alito wrote for the majority that:
"Because a public-sector union takes many positions during collective bargaining that have powerful political and civic consequences," these sorts of "compulsory fees constitute a form of compelled speech and association that imposes a significant impingement on First Amendment rights."
Conservative success in the ruling of Harris vs Quinn also signaled a willingness by the USSC to weaken labor on "First Amendment" grounds. 
Bain vs CTA also bases its attack on the unions using "First Amendment" arguments.  In Bain, the plaintiffs argue their right to be represented by the union and be permitted to vote in union elections, but to not have to join the union or pay agency fee payments, on the grounds that the union might decide to do something in a democratic process that the minority objects to.  The lawsuit, if successful, could lay groundwork for the success of Friedrichs
Bain vs CTA is being funded by anti-teachers' unions Michelle Rhee's former organization, StudentsFirst, in their first salvo against California teachers.
Both lawsuits employ logic used in previously successful anti-labor lawsuits, however, it is clear that the real goal is stripping away the ability of public sector unions to collect fees from non-members, thereby hamstringing the unions' strength and political influence. 
Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times said, "Bain vs. CTA should be viewed in the context of a long war against public employee unions. Among its landmarks were Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2005 ballot initiatives to reduce teacher tenure rights and hamstring public employee unions' authority to spend member dues on political activity. Both failed."
California has the highest number of unionized workers in the country.  If plaintiffs in both cases win, both the California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association will lose the ability to automatically Anti-union groups target California teachers » peoplesworld: