Union Dues Case at High Court

Is it a violation of teachers’ First Amendment rights to force them to pay dues to the union that bargains on their behalf  even if they aren’t members of the union?  Or does the union’s interest in having everyone covered under the contract pay dues outweigh those rights?

Those were the questions before the U.S. Supreme Court today in a case emanating from California. That’s where Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other California teachers have filed suit seeking to strike down the requirement of California and more than 20 other states that public employees pay so-called agency fees–the portion of union dues that go for collective bargaining.

The plaintiffs are asking the justices to overturn a 1977 ruling, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education authorizing states to require nonunion members to pay those agency fees. Under Abood, those workers don’t have to join unions or fund their political activities. But they can be compelled to pay for collective bargaining and other costs of contract administration.

A ruling in Friedrich v. California Teachers Association is expected by the end of the court’s term in June.

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