OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Education Revolution in Orange County: Part III of III – OC Teachers Lawsuit Against Unions Reaches Supreme Court

Posted by Chris Nguyen on August 6, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Justices

This is the third in my series on the education revolution brewing in Orange County.  The first piece was on the growth of charter schools in Orange County to catch up to the number of charter schools in the rest of California.  The second piece was on the use of the Parent Trigger Law at Palm Lane Elementary School.  Today, in the final piece, we turn to an Orange County case that has reached the United States Supreme Court seeking to overturn the “agency shop” rules for California school districts and to overturn the opt-out procedure for the “nonchargeable” portion of union dues.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is the most sweeping part of the education revolution in Orange County.  The plurality of the teachers, unions, and school districts in the case are from Orange County.

The growth of charter schools in Orange County is just OC playing catch up to its neighboring counties.  The Palm Lane Elementary School case is Orange County being one of the early adopters in the efforts around the Parent Trigger Law.  Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is Orange County seeking to pave the way for the nation.

If the petitioners (Rebecca Friedrichs, et al.) prevail in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, collective bargaining in this country changes forever and the influence of public employee unions in elections, particularly California elections, will wane significantly.

Public employee unions’ enormous sums of money for political campaigns are fueled by the dues they collect from their members.  For an individual employee to opt out of contributing their dues for political purposes, that employee must during a six-week period each year send a letter to the union stating they wish to opt out (there’s even a confusing box on the CTA’s regular dues form that implies employees can opt out entirely but is actually a box that accomplishes a far narrower task).

If the Supreme Court simplifies the opt-out system or switches opt-out to opt-in, you will see a precipitous fall in the amount of union money in politics.  With this fall in union money, it will be much tougher for union allies to win elected office in Congress, the State Legislature, and local government.  Fewer elected officials will be beholden to teachers unions.

If the petitioners prevail, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association will represent a sea change in American and California politics and governance.

What does “agency shop” mean?  What are “nonchargeable” portions of union dues?

(The petitioners describe describe “agency shop” rules as: “The State of California empowers school districts to require public-school teachers, as a condition of employment, to either join the union representing teachers in their district or pay the equivalent of dues to that union.”)

(California Government Code Section 3546(a) describes “agency shop” rules as: “the employee shall, as a condition of continued employment, be required either to join the recognized employee organization or pay the fair share service fee,” and the “nonchargeable” portion of union dues are the part of the “fee that is not devoted to the cost of negotiations, contract administration, and other activities of the employee organization that are germane to its function as the exclusive bargaining representative.”)

Who are the petitioners and the respondents?

Led by Orange County teacher Rebecca Friedrichs, ten California teachers and the Christian Educators Association International filed suit against the California Teachers Association (state teachers union), the National Education Association (national teachers union), and ten local teachers unions, including four from Orange County:

  • Savanna District Teachers Association
  • Saddleback Valley Educators Association
  • Orange Unified Education Association
  • Santa Ana Educators Association

Also among the respondents are the Superintendents of the Savanna School District, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Orange Unified School District, and Santa Ana Unified School District.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: