The End of the Beginning

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association next term, a case that challenges the use of agency fees by public employees’ unions.

You will hear a lot from me on the case in the coming months, so I won’t scoop myself here. Let’s just say it has the potential of turning the union membership situation in California and New Jersey into that of Texas and Florida.

That might not seem so monumental, but the unions have the recent example of Wisconsin to see how it might go nationwide.

The positive side for the public employee unions in agency fee states is that they have a full year to prepare for an adverse decision. They have already begun to do so, and those efforts will expand.

The unions are not optimistic about their chances in court, and the joint statement by NEA, AFT, CTA, SEIU and AFSCME reflects it.

The statement has nothing to say about the case itself, the practice of agency fees, or the concerns of non-members. It does have a lot of quotes from union members about advocacy and “sticking together.” The five union presidents inform us that “the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America—that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life.”

I’m pretty sure the fundamental promise of America has nothing to do with threatening people with the loss of their jobs if they don’t pay fees to a private organization they did not choose to represent them.

There’s no doubt agency fees have helped those five union presidents to live a decent life. Soon they will have to manage it solely on the dues paid by willing members.

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