Source: Long Beach Press Telegram
Author: Rebecca Friedrichs
Date: March 31, 2019
“On March 11, 2019, a class-action lawsuit, Mendez v. CTA, was filed against the California Teachers’ Association, the National Education Association, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra by desperate teachers seeking freedom from forced unionism. But why?
On June 27, 2018, teachers were already freed through the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus. After five decades of forced payments to abusive teachers’ unions who pump most of our money into their far-left social, sexual, and political agenda and harshly bully us when we object, we’re finally liberated from funding our abusers.
But like all battles against tyranny, complete liberation requires a fight.
Anticipating a loss at the U.S. Supreme Court in our 2016 case Friedrichs v. CTA which blazed the trail for Janus, unions implemented dozens of “fixes” and “work arounds” to undermine our efforts.
In fact, in January 2016 while winning oral arguments in Friedrichs, union “fixes” and “work-arounds” hit us square in the face. As we argued for freedom from forced union fees, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked a question, “Would it be illegal for the government, as employer or government, to fund the union?”
I was stunned. Especially because government unions in California were pushing their “Friedrichs Fix,” through the Legislature, a package of “work-arounds” designed to ensure that if employees were freed by the Court, unions would still get the money by hook or by crook. One fix (like that mentioned by Justice Sotomayor) insisted taxpayers should have to fund union dues for all government employees.
Unions stooped to outright deception too. As our cases worked through the courts from 2013-2018, unions bullied teachers across the country to sign updated union cards, convincing them they had no choice. Deviously, unions never mentioned the pending lawsuits seeking teacher freedoms, or the minuscule fine print on the cards which trapped teachers into irrevocable union payments even after the Janus decision set them free.
The teachers in Mendez v. CTA are trapped. According to their press release, the teachers allege, “the union violated their First Amendment rights by continuing to deduct union dues from their wages over their repeatedly stated objections.”
Americans like the Mendez teacher plaintiffs, Mark Janus, and the teachers who brought our Friedrichs case, have been fighting unaccountable, oppressive unions for decades. But no matter how many battles we win, the unions and their powerful far-left allies scheme to rob us of our liberties.
Like a spoiled child or a poor sport, the unions, figuring they’ll lose the game, pitch fits and keep on changing the rules.
They changed the rules after Pam Harris brought a Supreme Court case too. Pam’s son has a rare genetic syndrome that produces extreme intellectual and developmental disabilities, so Pam’s an individual homecare provider (IP). Taxpayers provide a small amount of funding so Josh can live at home, but unions wanted a piece of that action too.
Pam and her fellow plaintiffs (all moms serving as home healthcare providers) sued the governor of Illinois because Gov. Rod Blagojevich rewarded his union funders by declaring IPs as government workers only for the purpose of unionization. The moms didn’t receive any “benefits,” they just paid dues.
After Pam’s case freed IPs from forced unionism, Washington State’s SEIU 775 pushed several fixes. One sought to “reduce the wages paid to IPs by an amount equivalent to the current dues/fees and pay that amount directly to SEIU…”
Did you catch that?
The unions advocate the reduction of wages for caregivers like Pam receiving meager sums to care for vulnerable loved ones to ensure unions get the money.
Government union ethics rarely match those of the rest of civil society but profiting off the sick and helpless is a new low.
The “Friedrichs Fix” had multiple parts. One provisos mandated unions be given thirty-minutes uninterrupted to convince every new employee, during company time, on the taxpayer’s dime to join the union. Another fix guaranteed unions receive regularly updated personal contact information on all employees, and that all other organizations be denied these benefits.
These may sound antithetical to a free society and just flat out ridiculous, but they’re now the law in California and other states.
During Janus oral arguments, union counsel forewarned another fix. He warned, “The fees are the tradeoff…Union security is the tradeoff for no strikes.” Then threatened that if Justices freed employees from forced union fees, unions would, “raise an untold specter of labor unrest throughout the country.”
Five Justices rightly refused to cave to union extortion and ended forced unionism, so angry union activists now lead #RedforED teacher strikes to shakedown the American people.
It’s outrageous that lawmakers and tax-free unions advance fixes that erode our Republic and rob American citizens of our constitutional rights — undermining landmark legal decisions. Whether you agree or disagree with forced unionization, lawmakers and their favored special interests should not be permitted to abuse the legislative process by maneuvering end-runs around the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s equally immoral that government unions are permitted to bully the nation with teacher strikes staged to give unions more power and money while abandoning children and their families and terrorizing good teachers.
Now you know why California teachers, who’d much rather teach than be politicized, filed another lawsuit against teachers’ unions. Janus technically freed us from forced union fees, but we’re still vulnerable to gross misrepresentation and harsh oppression at the hands of government unions because the fix is in…again.”
Rebecca Friedrichs is a 28-year California public school teacher and the founder of For Kids and Country, a national movement to restore the voices and authority of parents, teachers and students in America’s schools. Portions of this op-ed are excerpted from her new book “Standing Up to Goliath: Battling State and National Teachers’ Unions for the Heart and Soul of our Kids and Country.
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