One Teacher Can Make a Difference

This past summer, veteran teacher Rebecca Friedrichs found herself in the limelight. The U.S. Supreme Court decided to take up her case against the California Teachers Association regarding union membership rules for educators. Currently, unions can force teachers to pay ‘fair share fees’ to keep their jobs even if they’re not union members – but the Friedrichs case could change that.

So who is the woman behind the case that has educators and union officials across the country buzzing? Free to Teach wanted to find out.

Rebecca Friedrichs started teaching in 1988, and is currently a third grade teacher. Over the years she’s taught several grades and all manner of subjects – and she’s even been a union leader.

Initially she was a ‘fair share fee payer’ and not a union member. She decided not to join the union because she was concerned with how dues money was spent and didn’t agree with the politics of the unions. However, she was so frustrated with the union that Rebecca attempted to change its culture from within.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work as she’d hoped.

“The best result of my experience as a local union leader is that I can say with 100% certainty that I had no voice even as a local union leader.  The union says it speaks on behalf of all teachers, but really, the union speaks on behalf of itself.”

So what are teachers who don't support the union culture or union politics supposed to do – leave the union or just grit their teeth and bear it?  We asked that question and many more in an interview with Rebecca that will be featured on Free to Teach next week.