Friedrichs Case Threatens Unions

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Friedrichs case, one of the biggest cases in its history.

Those who brought Friedrichs seek to do away with fair share fees in public sector unions, allowing non-members to benefit from contract improvements and union representation without sharing in any their costs.  As a union member, you should be outraged that you’ll be expected to carry the entire cost of “free riders” in your unit.  This video by AFSCME does a good job of explaining the inherent unfairness of the Friedrich’s position on fair share fees.  While the case is being argued as a free speech issue, in reality this is just a creative effort to weaken unions and roll back the gains we have made.

While the content of oral arguments does not always predict the final decision, most Court experts agreed that the majority of the justices seem ready to eliminate fair share fees.  That decision could have devastating effects on all American workers — those who belong to unions and those who have benefited from the higher standards that unions helped create.

But the fight is not over.  We can and must prepare ourselves for a bad decision in the Friedrichs case.  Things that we now take for granted — regular pay increases, quality health care coverage, secure pensions– would all be up for grabs in the absence of a strong union.  Our best defense is organizing — making sure that an overwhelming majority of people in all of our units are union members.  UAPD staff have been getting non-members to sign membership applications since word of Friedrichs reached us last year, but the staff cannot do this alone.  If you are willing to talk to non-members in your unit, contact your labor representative and let him or her know.

The Court’s final decision is expected this summer.  What we do between now and then means a great deal.

Further Reading:

New York Times—Strong Unions, Strong Democracy (Opinion)

Sacramento Bee—In Friedrichs case, justices should follow precedent, side with labor (Editorial)

The Atlantic: Will the U.S. Supreme Court Gut Public-Employee Unions?

The New Republic: The Supreme Court Case That Could Gut Public Sector Unions