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Jan 12

Protecting Teachers’ First Amendment Rights: Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

On January 11, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the requirement that government employees, such as public school teachers, pay fees to the local union even if they have chosen not to join the union. In Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), the Supreme Court first upheld “agency shop” arrangements, where government employees who don’t join a union pay an agency fee for a “fair share” of the union’s collective bargaining costs. The Court determined that unions may not spend nonmembers’ agency fees on “ideological activities unrelated to collective bargaining.” In recent years, the Court has questioned the validity of Abood for imposing a “significant impingement” on an employee’s First Amendment free speech and association rights. Now a group of California teachers are asking the Court to overrule Abood, arguing that public-sector collective bargaining is political speech that cannot be distinguished from lobbying and that compelling them to subsidize it violates the First Amendment.

Join us to hear from lead plaintiff, Rebecca Friedrichs, about her objections to the California Teachers Association and why she sued. Michael Carvin will review how the oral argument went and why the First Amendment protects government employees who choose not to join a local union. James Sherk will explain how a victory will make government unions more accountable to their members, and Patrick Wright will examine why the underlying premise of Abood – that exclusive bargaining can’t exist without agency fees – is wrong.

More About the Speakers

Michael Carvin
Partner, Jones Day and Lawyer for Rebecca Friedrichs

Rebecca Friedrichs
Lead Plaintiff in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

James Sherk
Research Fellow in Labor Economics, The Heritage Foundation

Patrick Wright
Vice President for Legal Affairs, Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Hosted By

Elizabeth Slattery Elizabeth Slattery

Legal Fellow and Appellate Advocacy Program Manager Read More