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California Public School Teachers Suing Teacher Unions

Ten public school teachers are taking on teacher’s unions over California state laws making dues compulsory for non-union members.

In a lawsuit filed against groups such as the California Teacher’s Association and the National Education Association, the teachers, represented by the Center for Individual Rights, claim that union dues are being used for political purposes that are “contrary to their personal interests and political beliefs.”

The lawsuit is attempting to capitalize on a 2012 Supreme Court ruling (Knox v. SEIU) that says non-union members should be given the option to opt-in for mandatory union fees used for political purposes rather than only having the option to opt-out.

According to the Center for Individual Rights, the Knox ruling called into question the constitutionality of “agency shop” laws that exist in states like California:

What makes the California “agency shop” law particularly egregious for public school teachers is that the subjects of collective bargaining — ranging from teacher pay to class size to methods of teacher evaluation — inherently involve controversial and important political and ideological issues. Thus, non-union teachers who disagree with the unions on issues of fiscal prudence and educational policy are nonetheless forced to pay compulsory fees that help fund the unions’ political agenda, as pursued through the collective-bargaining process and elsewhere.

When dues are more than $1000 a person, with at least $400 being used for political purposes, the likelihood of the claim being true doesn’t seem that far fetched.

This case is an intriguing first shot fired at agency shop laws following the Knox ruling, and in a liberal-dominated state like California it provides a new opportunity to discover how Knox will affect future union policy.

While mandatory union dues have been the subject of controversy for some time, recent years debate has been centered around the actions of Governors and state legislatures reforming their collective bargaining laws and the subsequent freak outs by the unions and legislators who represent their interests.

One can only imagine how unions and their friends might react if they lose a significant source of funding. Getting the ball rolling in California makes it an even juicier prospect.

Categories: Education, Labor / Unions
Tags: , , , ,

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