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Voice for All Workers at Risk in High Court Case

“We are disappointed that at a time when big corporations and the wealthy few are rewriting the rules in their favor, knocking American families and our entire economy off-balance, the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America — that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life,” AFT President Randi Weingarten, National Education Association (NEA) President Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a, CTA President Eric C. Heins, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) President Lee Saunders and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Mary Kay Henry said in a joint statement.
“The Supreme Court is revisiting decisions that have made it possible for people to stick together for a voice at work and in their communities — decisions that have stood for more than 35 years– and that have allowed people to work together for better public services and vibrant communities,” the union leaders said.
The details of the Friedrichs lawsuit track closely with the Supreme Court’s 2014 Harris v. Quinn decision, in which the majority issued a limited ruling against assessing fair share fees. Legal analysts say Friedrichs appears to have been brought specifically to expand that decision and force millions of public employees into a so-called “right-to-work” model.
Click here for analysis on the wider implications of the case.
The legal precedent at stake in Friedrichs is the 1977 Supreme Court decision in the case of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. The ruling found that fair share agreements were in fact Constitutional so long as non-member fees were devoted to collective bargaining and contract administration expenses.
Click here for our secretary-treasurer’s labor history column on the Abood decision.
Labor leaders today added, “when people come together in a union, they can help make sure that our communities have jobs that support our families. It means teachers can stand up for their students. First responders can push for critical equipment to protect us. And social workers can advocate effectively for children’s safety.
“America can’t build a strong future if people can’t come together to improve their work and their families’ futures. Moms and dads across the country have been standing up in the thousands to call for higher wages and unions. We hope the Supreme Court heeds their voices.”
The high court’s grant of the petition in Friedrichs means briefs will be issued and the case will be argued in the Supreme Court this fall. A decision is expected by June 30, 2016.

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