What just happened?
Earlier today the U.S. Supreme Court split 4-4 on a legal challenge to a California law that forces non-union workers to pay fees to public-employee unions.
What was the case about?
California law requires every teacher working in most of its public schools to financially contribute to the local teachers’ union and that union’s state and national affiliates in order to subsidize expenses the union claims are related to collective bargaining. California law also requires public school teachers to subsidize expenditures unrelated to collective bargaining unless a teacher affirmatively objects and then renews his or her opposition in writing every year.
In the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, several plaintiffs, including Rebecca Friedrichs and the Christian Educators Association International, challenged the law claiming that this agency shop provision is a form of state-compelled speech. The Supreme Court was asked to decide:
1. Whether Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Ed., 431 U.S. 209 (1977), should be overruled and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment.
2. Whether it violates the First Amendment to require that public employees affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public-sector unions, rather than requiring that employees affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech.
What is a “public-sector” union?
A public-sector union is a trade or labor union that represents the interests of employees within public sector or governmental organizations, such as teachers, firefighters, federal government employees, etc.
What is an “agency shop”?