OC Political

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

Posts Tagged ‘Rebecca Friedrichs’

US Supreme Court Splits 4-4 in OC’s Friedrichs v. CTA

Posted by Chris Nguyen on March 29, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016)This morning, the United States Supreme Court issued a one-sentence ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”

That single sentence ruling while not setting a precedent leaves in place a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that it does not violate the First Amendment to require public employees (in this case, public school teachers) to object to having their dues used for political purposes rather than requiring they consent to political uses of their dues.  In other words, the Ninth Circuit ruled an opt-out system was constitutional, and unions did not have to subscribe to an opt-in system to use public employee union dues for political purposes.

This the second such 4-4 ruling since the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia.  Scalia had been widely expected to support striking down the Ninth Circuit ruling.

Had Scalia lived and the petitioners prevailed 5-4, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association would have represented a sea change in American and California politics and governance.

The 4-4 ruling in what would have been a landmark decision demonstrates the incredible impact of Scalia’s death on the closely-divided court.  This will only further highlight the importance of the nominee to succeed Scalia on the Supreme Court, which in turn will draw the Supreme Court further into the presidential election.

Public employee unions’ enormous sums of money for political campaigns have been 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).

Had the Supreme Court simplified the opt-out system or switched opt-out to opt-in, there would have been a precipitous fall in the amount of union money in politics.  This would have made it much tougher for union allies to win elected office in Congress, the State Legislature, and local government.  Fewer elected officials would have been beholden to teachers unions.

Led by Orange County teacher Rebecca Friedrichs, ten California teachers and the Christian Educators Association International had 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 were the Superintendents of the Savanna School District, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Orange Unified School District, and Santa Ana Unified School District.

For those wondering about the Supreme Court’s first 4-4 ruling, it was issued last week in Hawkins v. Community Bank, a case on whether spouses who guarantee commercial loans constitute “applicants” under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which would trigger protection from marital-status discrimination.

Posted in National, Orange Unified School District, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Savanna School District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Orange Unified School District, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Santa Ana Unified School District, Savanna School District | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Education Revolution in Orange County: Part I of III

Posted by Chris Nguyen on July 23, 2015

An education revolution has been brewing in Orange County.  We’re seeing massive change in Orange County thanks to charter schools, the Parent Trigger Law, and litigation against compulsory union dues by the California Teachers Association.  I’m going to do a three-part series on this.

Charter schools are a recognition that one-size-fits-all does not work for all students.  There needs to be competition because some students need a different kind of school, just like there are many different types of colleges and universities.

Despite Orange County’s conservatism, the education community has long known Orange County as an anti-charter school county.  It’s not the voters who were anti-charter school.  It was the school board members.

The 2007-2008 Grand Jury even issued a report where they recommended, “The chartering authorities should follow the intent of the legislature by encouraging the establishment of charter schools by granting more charter school petitions provided they meet the State requirements.”

At the time of the Grand Jury report, there were 11 charter schools in Orange County.  Over the next six years, just three new charters were approved.  Keep in mind there are 29 chartering authorities in Orange County: the Orange County Board of Education and the 28 local school districts.

Here’s what the state of charter schools looked like in May 2014.  This shows Orange County’s four neighboring counties, plus tiny Humboldt County.

County Number of Charter
Schools in 2014
Population
Orange 14 3,010,232
Humboldt 15 134,623
Riverside 26 2,189,641
San Bernardino 37 2,035,210
San Diego 120 3,095,313
Los Angeles 341 9,818,605

Then in June 2014, with assistance from the California Charter Schools Association, South County voters tossed the County Board of Education’s most virulent anti-charter school member, 32-year incumbent Liz Parker, who to the surprise of many, was a registered Republican.  By a 57%-43% margin, the voters sent in Linda Lindholm to replace Parker.

Things have changed significantly for charter schools in Orange County since Lindholm replaced Parker.  We have overtaken Humboldt County.  Local school districts got the message and approved two more charter schools in the latter half of 2014.  In the first half of 2015, the Orange County Board of Education approved another two charter schools.  Orange County has grown its charter schools to 19, still a bit behind Riverside and far behind San Bernardino, and way, way behind San Diego and Los Angeles Counties (even when adjusting for population).

 

As I noted in a post a month ago:

Trustee Ken Williams, elected in 1996, has a voting record generally supportive of charter schools.  Trustee Robert Hammond, elected in 2012, has a voting record consistently supportive of charter schools.  Between 2012-2014, Williams and Hammond often found themselves on the losing ends of 3-2 votes on charter school applications.  Lindholm’s victory in unseating Liz Parker shifted the Board to a pro-charter school majority.  To their credits, Trustees Jack Bedell and David Boyd, along with the Orange County Department of Education staff, recognized the sea change delivered by the voters.  Staff reports for both Vista Heritage and CCPA have recommended approval of the charter schools.  Bedell and Boyd joined a unanimous vote in favor of Vista Heritage’s application and are expected to join a unanimous vote for CCPA.

The Orange Unified School District provisionally approved a charter school in May by a 5-2 vote.  Unfortunately, due to absences, the OUSD Board’s vote on final approval was 3-2, one vote short of the necessary four votes.  That charter school, Unity Middle College High School, has appealed to the County Board of Education with a vote expected in August.  Considering OUSD’s rejection wasn’t a real rejection, and was more of a fluke, we should expect Orange County’s 20th charter school before the close of summer.

Next in the series: the Parent Trigger Law and Orange County’s 21st charter school…

Posted in Anaheim City School District, California, National, Orange County, Orange County Board of Education, Orange Unified School District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »