Cosigned: Amicus Brief Says
SCOTUS Must Restore Teachers’ Rights
Friedrichs Case Critical to Restoring PA Teachers’ Freedoms
September 16, 2015, Harrisburg, Pa.—For Pennsylvania teachers and other public employees forced to fund union interests, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could be a game-changer.
Rebecca Friedrichs is a California public schoolteacher who opposes teachers’ union politics and doesn’t want or need union representation. But California—like Pennsylvania—is a forced union state, meaning public employees, like Friedrichs, can be forced to fund a union even if they opt out of full union membership.
To help restore Pennsylvania public employees' rights, the Commonwealth Foundation has signed on to an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court which argues public sector unions should not be supported through coercive government mandate but only through employees’ free choice.
“Nearly 30 percent of union members say they want to opt out of their union, according to a 2015 nationwide poll,” said Brittney Parker, project director for Free to Teach, an initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation that informs teachers of their labor rights and options. “When so many aren’t satisfied with the services unions are offering, clearly something fundamental needs to change.”
The plight of Julie Raab, a Central Dauphin School District teacher, underscores Friedrichs’ importance. She writes in a PennLive op-ed of her experience with forced unionism:
Although I'd been a valued school district employee for nearly 20 years, I suddenly found myself at the [Pennsylvania State Education Association’s] mercy, bound to play by union rules and pay union fees, whether I joined or not. I even lost the ability to negotiate for my own salary.
Both Friedrichs and Raab desire the professional freedom specified in the Free to Teach Teacher’s Bill of Rights, which advocates for teachers’ right to associate freely and fund the organizations and causes they choose.
“Like any other organization, unions should have to earn their members’ money, not use the power of government to force teachers to pay them,” Parker continued. “If the court rules in Friedrichs’ favor, teachers, students, and taxpayers will benefit because union leaders will be incentivized to focus on the classroom, rather than on their own political agendas.”
FreetoTeach.org is an online community and resource center that equips and empowers Pennsylvania teachers hungry for information about public education and the teaching profession. Free to Teach covers topics that affect teachers’ professional lives, like public pensions, performance pay, seniority, school spending, and labor rights.
Brittney Parker is available for comment today. Contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.
# # #
The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.