One woman’s quest to free teachers

Rebecca Friedrichs never understood her union. As a new teacher, Friedrichs noticed a teacher in the classroom next to hers was abusive towards her students. When Friedrichs tried to do something about it she quickly found out nothing could be done because the teacher was protected by the union.

“They couldn’t get rid of her because of teacher tenure,” she noted. “There was absolutely nothing, from my perspective and what I was told, that I could do.”

That experience along with several others convinced Freidrichs to resign her union membership. Still every month a part of her paycheck goes to union coffers. The payment is called a fair share fee or dues to compensate the union for the cost of negotiating her contract, but Friedrichs would gladly negotiate her own contract if given the chance.

Friedrichs's frustration over forced dues lead her to file a lawsuit that's now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the court rules in Friedrichs's favor, teachers in forced union states, like Pennsylvania, would be freed from forced payments to public unions. That would be a big relief to teachers like Julie Raab. Julie writes in Pennlive.

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.

And it would help Jim Williams, a teacher from West Middlesex. When Mr. Williams asked his union
treasurer about opting out of union membership, he was told that it would save him only “about 50 bucks” out of approximately $750 in annual dues.

In the meantime, Pennsylvania teachers can learn more about forced unionism at Free to Free to Teach is an online community and resource center that equips and empowers Pennsylvania teachers hungry for information about public education and their labor rights.