A fourth-grade teacher in Anaheim public schools, Rebecca Friedrichs, has long had problems with the way the California Teachers Association spends the union dues it takes in and the way it goes about collecting the money from the rank and file. Now she and nine other teachers from around the state are fighting back. The 10 public school teachers allege in a lawsuit that the CTA, the largest affiliate of the National Education Association, has no right to spend the rank-and-file’s money on political campaigns with which members disagree.
In the case, currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Friedrichs and the other teachers say the union forces them to participate in collective bargaining, pressures teachers to campaign for selected political candidates and unlawfully collects dues.
Under California state law, a union that is recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative for a school district, such as the CTA, can enter into an organizational security or “agency-shop” agreement which, in lay terms, means that while it is not mandatory for a teacher in the district to become a member of the local union, they must pay fees to the union for it to negotiate on their behalf. The rule is a condition of employment for all teachers.
Friedrichs alleges that CTA members and non-members alike pay the full annual dues, which total around $1,000, with non-members only able to request reimbursement of the portion deemed separate from bargaining expenses. The CTA does little to make sure they are aware of how much money they should be paid back.
The plaintiffs, who are backed by The Center for Individual Rights, are hoping that the court of appeals, like the district court before them, will rule quickly and allow the process work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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