Supreme Court 

Supreme Court Argument Preview: What's at Stake in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a potentially landmark lawsuit brought by 10 California public school teachers. The case, which builds on recent Foundation Supreme Court victories in Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014), could put an end to forced union dues in the public sector.

Below, we've put together a list of helpful links to explain the issues at stake, as the well as the implications of a favorable Friedrichs decision for civil servants across the country. 

Last September, National Right to Work President Mark Mix published an op-ed in The Washington Times explaining why the High Court should take this opportunity to outlaw mandatory union dues for government employees. Key quote:

Friedrichs gives the court an opportunity to outlaw all mandatory union dues in the public sector. To be clear, such a ruling wouldn’t end government unions. Employees who genuinely support a labor organization would still be free to join up and pay dues. What it would do, however, is limit government unions’ outsized political influence.

Without a guaranteed stream of income from nonunion employees, union officials wouldn’t have nearly as much money to spend on friendly politicians. Moreover, unions that actually have to persuade employees to join and voluntarily contribute tend to be more focused on their members and less fixated on partisan politics.

Outlawing mandatory union dues or fees in the public sector would also limit the ability of union officials to handpick their negotiating partners in state and local government. Politicians who aren’t beholden to union special interests are more likely to strike better bargains for their constituents.

Ideally, no employee — public or private — would ever be forced to pay union dues to get or keep a job. In Friedrichs, the Supreme Court has a chance to restore the workplace rights of America’s civil servants and end the corrupting influence of public-sector forced dues on our political system.

Veteran National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney Bill Messenger also contributed to SCOTUSBlog's Friedrichs symposium, which offers a more in-depth look at the legal issues surrounding the case. Messenger was the lead attorney for the Foundation's Harris Supreme Court victory, which helped lay the groundwork for many of the arguments presented in  Friedrichs. Key quote:

Friedrichs likely represents the terminus of this line of reasoning. By design, the case squarely presents the question wrongly decided in Abood:  whether public school teachers can be forced to support union bargaining with a school district. Harris suggests that the Court will be receptive to the Friedrichs petitioners’ arguments that there is no relevant difference under the First Amendment between bargaining with government and lobbying government, in that both are petitioning government over matters of political and public concern, and that Abood should be overruled on these grounds.

. . . 

Leaving aside the positive impact on public policy of reducing the unique power and financial resources of public-sector unions, the Friedrichs decision will have profound implications for the First Amendment rights of millions of workers. An estimated five million public-sector employees are currently subject to forced-fee requirements and must pay tribute to a union as a condition of their employment. Even under the existing precedents, this is, as the Court has recognized repeatedly, a “significant impingement” on the First Amendment rights of each and every individual worker who would not voluntarily support the union which government forces them to subsidize. Overruling Abood will end the most widespread abuse of First Amendment rights in the nation, while failing to do so will perpetuate it.

For more information on the Friedrichs case, you can also check out the National Right to Work Foundation's brief in support of the plaintiffs and SCOTUSBlog's compendium of every brief submitted in the case. 

National Right to Work Supreme Court Victory Forces SEIU to Abandon Forced Dues Demands in Illinois, Minnesota, & Massachusetts

News Release

National Right to Work Supreme Court Victory Forces SEIU to Abandon Forced Dues Demands in Illinois, Minnesota, & Massachusetts

National Right to Work Foundation attorneys build on Harris precedent to aid home-based personal care providers forced into union ranks

Washington, DC (August 5, 2014) – In the wake of a National Right to Work Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court victory in June, government union bosses from across the country are now abandoning their forced dues demands on home-based personal care and childcare providers.

On June 30, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in a case concerning whether Illinois homecare providers can be forced into union ranks against their will. The case, Harris v. Quinn, is a class-action lawsuit litigated by Foundation staff attorneys and filed by eight Illinois care providers after Illinois Governors signed executive orders rendering them vulnerable to unwanted union representation.

The Court struck down the scheme, ruling that individuals who indirectly receive state subsidies based on their clientele cannot be forced to pay compulsory union fees. The Court's ruling renders unconstitutional similar homecare unionization schemes in effect in at least 14 other states.

Click here to read the full release.

Supreme Court Clears Path for Michigan Childcare Providers to Win Back Money Illegally Seized by Union Officials

News Release

Supreme Court Clears Path for Michigan Childcare Providers to Win Back Money Illegally Seized by Union Officials

UAW and AFSCME took in over $4 million from 50,000 childcare providers in unconstitutional scheme, but lower courts blocked lawsuit to return money from unions

Washington, DC (July 1, 2014) – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it has granted, vacated, and remanded a federal lawsuit which seeks to require that Michigan's 50,000 home childcare providers receive a refund of union dues illegally taken during a now-defunct unionization scheme.

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys argue that all of Michigan's home childcare providers should be entitled to refunds of the union dues collected after former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and a UAW and AFSCME coalition, the Child Care Providers Together Michigan (CCPTM) union, colluded to force the state's providers into union ranks against their will.

Michigan home childcare providers Carrie Schlaud, Diana Orr, Peggy Mashke, and Edward and Nora Gross originally filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Granholm and the CCPTM union for designating home childcare providers who receive state funds as public employees solely for the purpose of forcing them to accept the CCPTM's "representation" and pay union dues.

Click here to read the full release.

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Illinois Homecare Provider Unionization Scheme

News Release

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Illinois Homecare Provider Unionization Scheme

National Right to Work Foundation attorneys defend home-based personal care providers forced into union ranks

Washington, DC (June 30, 2014) – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in a case over whether Illinois homecare providers can be forced into union ranks against their will.

The case, Harris v. Quinn, is a class-action lawsuit argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys and filed by Pam Harris and seven other Illinois care providers after Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed an executive order rendering them vulnerable to unwanted union organizing.

Click here to read the full release.

Massachusetts Childcare Providers File Federal Lawsuit Challenging Forced Unionization Scheme

News Release

Massachusetts Childcare Providers File Federal Lawsuit Challenging Forced Unionization Scheme

Childcare providers fight dictate to push childcare business owners into forced dues union ranks

Boston, MA (April 16, 2014) – A group of Massachusetts home-based childcare providers have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that seeks to forcibly unionize the state's home-based childcare providers.

Providers Kathleen D'Agostino, Denise Boian, Jean Demers, Judith Santos, Laurie Smith, and Kelly Winship filed the suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

D'Agostino and the other providers seek to halt implementation of a recently-passed law intended to designate Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials as the monopoly political representative of thousands of providers in the state, who are either business owners or family members who take care of children within their families.

Click here to read the full release.

Supreme Court Dismisses Union-Backed Petition to Overturn Organizing Case

News Release

Supreme Court Dismisses Union-Backed Petition to Overturn Organizing Case

Right to Work Foundation-won Eleventh Circuit ruling stands, putting at risk backroom deals between companies and aggressive union organizers

Washington, DC (December 10, 2013) – Today, the United States Supreme Court announced that it "dismissed as improvidently granted" a union appeal of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Mulhall v. UNITE HERE.

The order leaves intact a significant victory for National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys and a Florida Mardi Gras Gaming employee in which the appeals court ruled that the company's organizing assistance to union officials could be unlawful "thing[s] of value." Consequently, as Jack Goldsmith, the Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, today said about the Mulhall dismissal in a blog, "as long as CA11's decision stands, the specter of expensive and difficult litigation will hover over neutrality/bargaining agreements in many circuits, and will indeed chill the making of those agreements."

Click here to read the full release.

Former Rhode Island Nurse Files Brief in Obama NLRB "Recess Appointment" Supreme Court Case

News Release

Former Rhode Island Nurse Files Brief in Obama NLRB "Recess Appointment" Supreme Court Case

Invalid Labor Board negates Supreme Court's restrictions on union bosses' power to force workers to pay for union politics

Washington, D.C. (November 25, 2013) – A former Warwick, Rhode Island nurse has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the high-profile legal battle over President Barack Obama's recent purported recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Jeanette Geary filed the amicus brief today with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Foundation staff attorneys argue in the brief that the recess appointments are unconstitutional because the U.S. Senate was still in session per the body's rules. Therefore the President could not make the appointments to the NLRB without Senate confirmation.

Click here to read the full release.

Airline Workers’ Federal Class-Action Suit Seeks to Ground Union Boss Forced Dues Powers

News Release

Airline Workers' Federal Class-Action Suit Seeks to Ground Union Boss Forced Dues Powers

Relying on landmark Knox Supreme Court decision, workers seek to roll back union boss power to collect forced dues

Dallas, TX (June 27, 2013) – Six airline workers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit that seeks to expand workers' right to refrain from paying union dues in light of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Knox v. SEIU Local 1000.

Five American Eagle Airlines baggage handlers from Texas and a Southwest Airlines flight attendant from Maryland filed the lawsuit with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas.

The workers all are not members of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWUA). However, the workers must still accept the TWUA hierarchy as their monopoly bargaining representative even though they are prohibited from voting on the union's bargaining agreement or participating in union meetings. Additionally, federal labor law empowers union officials to extract union dues and fees from the workers as payment for their so-called "representation." If the workers refused to pay union dues or fees, they would be terminated from their jobs.

Last year, the Supreme Court suggested in its Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU ruling that it was ready to reassess whether union bosses' forced dues powers, which it called "something of an anomaly," violate workers' First Amendment rights. Responding to that suggestion, the workers' lawsuit seeks to eliminate forced unionism in America.

Click here to read the full release.

Supreme Court to Hear National Right to Work Foundation Case Challenging Backroom Union Organizing Deal

News Release

Supreme Court to Hear National Right to Work Foundation Case Challenging Backroom Union Organizing Deal

Right to Work legal challenge could determine if companies are allowed to hand over sensitive employee information to aggressive union organizers

Washington, DC (June 24, 2013) – Today, the United States Supreme Court announced that it is granting a writ of certiorari in Mulhall v. UNITE HERE, a case that could determine if companies are allowed to hand over workers' personal information to union organizers in exchange for union concessions, among other things.

In 2004, UNITE HERE Local 355 and Mardi Gras Gaming entered into an agreement in which union officials promised to spend over one hundred thousand dollars on a gambling ballot initiative and guaranteed not to picket, boycott, or strike against Mardi Gras facilities.

In return, Mardi Gras agreed to give union operatives employees' personal contact information (including home addresses) and grant access to company facilities during a coercive 'card check' organizing campaign, refrain from informing workers about the downsides of unionization, and refrain from requesting a federally-supervised secret ballot election to determine whether employees unionized.

Click here to read the full release.

Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court Update

Regular Freedom@Work readers may remember the case of Pam Harris, an Illinois woman who is challenging an SEIU scheme aimed at forcing her and other homecare providers into union ranks. For the past several years, Harris has received free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys. 

In November 2011, Harris filed a a petition for a writ of certiorari at the Supreme Court, challenging the SEIU's forced-unionism scheme on the grounds that it violates homecare providers' freedom of association and freedom of speech. Last June, the Supreme Court asked for a brief on the issues presented from the Solicitor General, a move that could indicate heightened interest in the case. The Solicitor General's brief was filed in early May. Harris's Foundation-provided staff attorney submitted a reply shortly thereafter. 

Although we hoped the Supreme Court would announce whether it would take the case this morning, it was not on today's orders list, meaning the case will be conferenced again this Thursday. That makes this coming Monday (June 17th) the likely day the Court will announce whether or not it will take the case. 

For more information on the case, including links to Harris's petition and several amicus curiae briefs filed in support of her arguments, check out Scotusblog.  


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