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An Open Letter to Teachers Fighting Fair Share Fees: How Your Fight Could Hurt Students

By: John T. McCrann

Education Week

My fellows citizens and colleagues,

In my last post, I asked folks on both sides of the debate on the Friedrichs Supreme Court case to consider part of the moral foundation that might be driving each other’s beliefs.

In this post, I will address concerns that I have about what could happen if those who are trying to undermine established state laws are successful.

Our current bargaining system places a representative group of teachers at the table to decide how to allocate resources for students. What will happen for students if this system is undermined? photo credit: geralt

Our current bargaining system places a representative group of teachers at the table to decide how to allocate resources for students. What will happen for students if this system is undermined? photo credit: geralt

There are thousands of big and small decisions that must be made about our work lives; many of these decisions, the kind that affect hundreds of people, are codified in a contract or collective bargaining agreement with the district. A majority of these decisions relate to mundane aspects of our jobs which are disconnected from hot button political issues, but a few are controversial—particularly in an era of controversy over how best to support students, tight budgets, and high expectations.

The plaintiffs in the Friedrichs case would have us believe that they are fighting for the “individual right” to make these kinds of decisions for themselves, but some level of collective decision making is necessary in a large bureaucracy.

Somebody will make decisions about how to allocate resources and those decisions will create a frame for the worklife of every individual teacher in a given district. The question that we need to answer is: what group is best positioned to make decisions that will support both students and teachers? Read more

Martin Luther King’s fight for economic justice matters today. Working people are walking in his footsteps.

By: David Tucker

Medium/@SEIU

Americans are right to remember the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a leader who was unshakably committed to the principle of nonviolence.

But let’s not forget that he was a fighter.

On the day he was murdered, nearly 47 years ago, King was in Memphis, Tenn., standing with black city sanitation workers who had gone on strike for higher pay, safe working conditions and the right to stick together.

Martin Luther King’s last act was to stand with public service workers as they fought for a union.

Read more

Conservative workers should look to unions for voice (Opinion)

Court must stand behind organized labor

By: Lori Smith

St. Cloud Times

Those who failed to implement “right-to-work” laws in Minnesota now go for similar goals for public-sector workers at the federal level.

SNOSHUU / FLICKR

SNOSHUU / FLICKR

Like many Minnesotans, I am a strong believer that people who work hard and follow the rules should have a fair chance to get ahead. It shouldn’t matter what part of the state you are born in, or who you know, to determine whether you are able to provide a healthy and happy life for your family. It is this core value that helps shape why hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans like myself are proud members of unions, where we come together to improve our lives and strengthen our communities.

This case, bankrolled by a national group of powerful, wealthy extremists called the Center for Individual Rights, is looking to stop working people from coming together to improve our lives and strengthen our communities. A win would overturn decades of labor laws and help to further consolidate power into the hands of rich and powerful who already control and set the rules that have caused wages and benefits to decline over the last three decades. Read more

Unions Too Vital To Undermine (Opinion)

By: David Orr

Hartford Courant

david_orr1To me, being in law enforcement is about more than doing a job, it’s about being the backbone of your community. I have been in law enforcement for 16 years, as a patrolman in the New York City Police Department and, for the past 14 years, with the Norwalk Police Department. I’ve worked as a narcotics officer, a detective, SWAT operator, union treasurer and union president.

I know the challenges that officers confront every day and the importance of having a strong advocate for their work conditions, health and safety — their union. It’s why I’m concerned about a court case from California that will be heard Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court and, depending on the ruling, could undercut and even disable unions representing government workers.

In Norwalk, I supervise the squad of patrol officers on the day shift. These are the women and men who do whatever it takes to keep our community safe, who we rely on in times of personal crisis. Read more

What’s at stake with the ‘Friedrichs’ case

petition delivery

Union members delivered more than 100,000 signatures to the Center for Individual Rights. Michael Campbell photo.

By: Lacy Barnes

A few weeks ago, I started an online petition to a group called the Center for Individual Rights — an organization backed by the Koch brothers, other right-wing 1 percenters, and even white supremacists — to tell them to stop attacking working people and our right to join a union. I wasn’t shocked when over 100,000 people signed my petition, and I wasn’t shocked at the response my brothers and sisters got from the Center for Individual Rights when they tried to deliver the petition signatures today.

Allow me to provide a little backstory for context: This Koch brothers-backed group is trying to make it even harder for public service workers — community college teachers like me, as well as nurses, social workers, firefighters, and others — to band together at work in order fight for benefits and wages we need to provide for our families. It is asking the Supreme Court in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association to impose the same kind of radical agenda we’ve seen hurt everyday people in states like Wisconsin and practically every other state in the country. Worse yet, just like inCitizens United, if this all-out attack on everyday Americans succeeds, the result would be enshrined in the Constitution. Read more

State of the unions: Why Supreme Court case could hurt Minnesotans we serve

We’re three public employees, ordinary members of the unions the Fredrichs plaintiffs want to destroy. Here’s our reasoning:

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: A Deceptive Attack on Organized Labor

US Supreme Court

US Supreme Court, flySnow via Getty Images

Huffington Post

By: Ben Speilberg

The United States Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), a lawsuit with major implications for the future of organized labor. While it purports to be about free speech rights, Friedrichsis actually a deceptive attack on unions.

Many California public school teachers working in traditional school districts are CTA members by default. CTA collects dues from members, some of which are “chargeable” — that is, applied to the costs of collective bargaining and classified as apolitical — and the rest of which are “nonchargeable,” or classified as political.

The plaintiffs in Friedrichs seek to overturn Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which in 1977 established that, while public sector unions could not require member contributions to nonchargeable spending, they could charge all employees for chargeable spending (activities related to “collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment purposes”). Read more

Washington State Public-Sector Unions Have A Lot At Stake In Friedrichs Supreme Court Case

KPLU

SNOSHUU / FLICKR

SNOSHUU / FLICKR

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in mid-January in a case that could have big ramifications for public-sector unions in Washington state.

It’s called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and the case concerns whether it’s okay that states such as California and Washington require public-sector employees to pay their union an “agency fee” for the cost of collective bargaining even if those workers opt out of paying the full amount of dues because they don’t want their money to go toward the union’s political activities.

Noah Purcell, solicitor general in the Washington state attorney general’s office, said if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, public sector unions stand to lose a lot. Read more

Opinion: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Could Prevent Workers From Organizing

 KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

NBC News

It’s already too difficult for too many Americans to get by, let alone get ahead. Unfortunately, Black folks, who face an unemployment rate nearly twice that of the national average and median family incomes approximately 40 percent lower than whites, know these challenges all too well. For Black women, all of this is compounded by gender discrimination in pay – Black women only earn 64 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men – that is far worse than the average for all women, itself an unacceptable 78 cents on the dollar.

Working people and their livelihoods have been under assault for decades thanks to an economy thrown further and further out of balance by wealthy and powerful special interests that manipulate the rules to further enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. Meanwhile, we continue to struggle, to say the least, with the effects of systemic racism.

These problems aren’t news to many Americans because they live them every day. What undoubtedly is news to most people is that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear a case that threatens to make these economic challenges even worse. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, is the latest tactic in a long running conservative campaign to deny working people the right to band together, form a union, and speak up for one another in order to get the wages and benefits that they can sustain their families on. Read more