Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jersey Jazzman: Anti-Union, Freeloading Teachers Sound Off

Jersey Jazzman: Anti-Union, Freeloading Teachers Sound Off:

Anti-Union, Freeloading Teachers Sound Off

If you're a teacher, get ready to hear this name a lot this year: Rebecca Friedrichs. She's the lead petitioner in a case that will go before the Supreme Court in its next term; if she wins, the unions that represent teachers will face an enormous threat.

Friedrichs v. California Teacher Association hinges on a central question: can a public employee union compel all of the employees its represents in collective bargaining to pay for representing them in negotiations? Understand that no one is ever forced to join a union, as doing so would violate the First Amendment. But governments can and do designate in law that unions are the representatives of public employees in collective bargaining agreements.

Because these unions must represent all workers, whether they are members or not, they have a problem: free riders can benefit from negotiations yet not have to pay the costs for having unions represent them at the bargaining table. So unions charge "agency fees" to all of the employees they represent. These fees are a fraction of the total costs of membership dues, albeit a large fraction. If any public employee chooses to opt out of membership, they are refunded a part of those dues.

Ostensibly, this keeps public employees from subsidizing political activities, like lobbying, that members may disagree with. Of course, the workers who opt out can still benefit from those political activities, which means there is plenty of potential for free-riding already baked into the system.

A 1977 case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education upheld the constitutionality of this - See more at: