Teachers get the green light to appeal compulsory union dues to SCOTUS


By Bre Payton | Watchdog.org

Teachers and other public employees in 26 states are a step closer to being free from paying compulsory union dues.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit gave the green light for teachers to petition the Supreme Court to challenge the states’ “agency shop” laws — laws that compel teachers to pay collective bargaining dues to the union, even if they are not union members.

If SCOTUS decides to take the case, oral arguments for both sides would likely begin next fall, and a decision could be made as early as the first half of 2016, said Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, which is representing plaintiffs.

There are “better than even odds” that the court will take it and decide it in favor of the plaintiffs, he said.

Teachers who oppose the laws — including fourth grade teacher Rebecca Friedrichs, the lead plaintiff in the case against the California Teacher’s Association — say that the laws violate their First Amendment rights to not be compelled to support a political cause or candidate.

While California law allows teachers to opt out of 30 percent of the dues that are dedicated to political spending, Friedrichs is arguing that the remaining 60 – 70 percent of dues that teachers are forced to pay are being spent on political issues.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that seven labor unions have given more money to super PACs than the Koch Brothers:

The National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the country, has spent more than $22 million on super PACs in the midterm elections, according to theCenter for Responsive Politics. The NEA trails only radical environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer in terms of super PAC donations, according to the Huffington Post.

“I think there’s widespread understanding that there’s an issue here,” Pell said. “People are following the case with a lot interest and the media coverage reflects that fact.”

Bre Payton