Forced Union Fees Are Neither Fair Nor ‘Bipartisan’

Published April 3, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court will likely consider for a second time whether teachers unions should be allowed to force non-union members to pay them for collective bargaining services they don’t want.

“The Association of American Educators, the largest national, non-union teachers’ association, and eight of its California member educators filed a lawsuit last week against the California Teachers Association challenging the constitutionality of California’s ‘agency shop’ law,” AAE reported last month. “‘Agency shop’ arrangements violate educators’ First Amendment guarantee to free speech and free association by forcing public school teachers to support powerful teachers’ union efforts to advance their political agenda through collective bargaining.”

CTA contends its forced union fees are the non-union members’ “fair share,” but what is “fair” about strong-arming people into paying for services they don’t want or need and in many cases violate their moral convictions?

“Fair Share fees are the cost of union representation and bargaining,” CTA’s website states. “No one is forced to join a union, but unions are legally required to represent all workers. Teachers and other public employees who don’t want to belong to a union only have to contribute to the costs of representation they receive.

“Since all workers enjoy the benefits, job security, and other protections the union negotiates, it is only fair that all contribute to the cost of securing those benefits and protections,” CTA further claims. “It’s not fair for some to pay more for the benefits all workers enjoy. The current Fair Share system is a good compromise and common sense.”

Notice the language: “All workers enjoy the benefits … the union negotiates.” How does the union know that? As Larry Sand, president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, recently told a reporter for the Heartland Institute, for which I work as a research fellow, “Not all teachers benefit from collective bargaining, which leads to wage compression, where mediocre teachers are overpaid and great teachers are underpaid.”

Even if all teachers do benefit from unions’ work, why should they be forced to participate in a system if they don’t want to? All people, in my mind, would benefit from reading C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, but that doesn’t mean I should be able to mail everyone in the world a copy of the book and then charge them for its purchase price and delivery cost.

It’s not as if the CTA is innocently bargaining on behalf of public school teachers to ensure they receive quality “benefits, job protections and other protections.” What an incredibly dishonest representation of the current state of affairs. As numerous lawsuits, reports and financial documents prove, CTA is a politically motivated organization with close ties to the Democratic Party, which it relies on to obtain favorable government deals that help keep union bosses fat and happy.

According to an AAE report, a “lawsuit,Yohn v. California Teachers Association, asks the courts to respect the teachers’ First Amendment right to choose without fear or coercion whether or not to join or fund a labor union. The hundreds of dollars non-members are forced to pay to the union as a condition of employment in California schools is a clear violation of educators [sic] First Amendment rights, since the unions used those coerced payments to advance their policy agenda when bargaining with the government.”

Terry Pell is president of the Center for Individual Rights, which is representing Yohn and his fellow plaintiffs and also represented Rebecca Friedrichs inFriedrichs v. California Teachers Association— a nearly identical case that ended in a tied Supreme Court decision in 2016.

“Unions have come armed to the financial teeth this election cycle to aid their Democratic friends and causes,” Pell wrote in Forbes after CIR filed the Friedrichs case in November 2014. Pell noted despite “CTA President Dean Vogel [making] much of the fact that the CTA is a ‘bipartisan’ organization with 35 percent Republican membership, the CTA only endorsed two Republicans (both minority leaders that the union needs to smooth its legislative agenda) in this year’s California elections, while throwing their support behind almost 100 Democrats.”

In 2015, National Review reported, “An exhaustive new study from the Center for Union Facts crunched the numbers on union political spending, tracking down where members’ dues ended up. Nearly $140 million — about 99 percent of all union political contributions — went to Democrats and liberal causes, the study found.”

During the 2016 election, 93 percent of teachers unions’ political contributions, to the tune of $33.2 million, were given to Democrats, Fox News reported in January.

So much for being “bipartisan” and spending union fees on “bargaining.”

The CTA, as well as nearly all teachers unions, is nothing more than a well-funded mob. The time to thwart the unions’ bullying tactics is long overdue, but, as the saying goes, it’s “better late than never” — and now that constitutionalist Neil Gorsuch is close to joining the Supreme Court, the timing is more ideal than it’s been since Justice Antonin Scalia died over one year ago.

[Originally Published at the Orange County Register]