June 30, 2016

Supreme Court won't rehear Friedrichs case; 'fair share' remains law of the land

Author: Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT Communications
supreme court
Caption: FILE PHOTO: Pro-union forces rally outside the Supreme Court in January. Photo by Mike Campbell.

Public unions such as NYSUT can continue to receive "fair share" fees from the workers who benefit from the union's representation.

The U.S. Supreme Court - in ruling not to re-hear Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association-— kept intact the concept of "fair share," a principle the court has supported for decades and one for which NYSUT has fought relentlessly.

NYSUT President Karen E. Magee, in praising the court's decision, said that had plaintiffs been successful in forcing unions to represent "free riders," the solidarity and finances of public unions would have been decimated, severely impeding their ability to protect the rights and professions of their members and advocate for students and public services.

"It is only reasonable and fair that all workers share in the costs of representation, such as collective bargaining and contract administration, that benefits them," Magee said. "These fair share fees by law do not go toward union political activity. Fair share remains the best compromise between the duty of unions to represent all workers and the need to protect employees' First Amendment rights."

While the July 28 ruling effectively delivered a deathblow to the latest union-busting attempt by anti-labor forces, there is little time to rest. In light of the unrelenting attacks on the nation's labor movement in recent years — as seen in California, Wisconsin, Ohio and in New York over teacher tenure — a new challenge to fair share sometime in the future is not unimaginable, making it essential that unions remain vigilant.

NYSUT — as it did throughout the Friedrichs case — continues to work aggressively statewide to organize new workers and promote the value of union membership.

NYSUT's message makes it clear: Where unions are flourishing, employee salaries are higher; more workers have health insurance; and more benefit from retirement security.

In addition to the economic benefits, belonging to a union gives workers a voice on the job. Collectively, workers can bargain for better and safer working conditions, and speak out — without fear of retribution — against unfairness and injustice in the workplace.

Such is the case in New York, where NYSUT members have been the leading voice in the successful pushback against the over-reliance on standardized testing, the flawed implementation of Common Core and unfair evaluation process.

"When we educate, organize and mobilize, we grow our union in every way possible," said Magee. "By remaining vigilant and working together, NYSUT will not only survive, we will thrive."

For more on how unions benefit working families, go to nysut.org/unionvalue.