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Rutledge: Requiring Fees Paid to Public-Sector Unions Violates the First Amendment


September 14, 2015

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she joined an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. Rutledge and 17 State attorneys general urge the Court to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and hold that requiring fees to public-sector unions, including for activities related to the union’s role as exclusive bargaining representative, violates the First Amendment.

Rebecca Friedrichs, a public school teacher in Orange County, California, along with several other colleagues and the Christian Educators Association, filed a lawsuit against the California Teachers Association (CTA) challenging the association’s fee requirement of all California teachers. California teachers cannot be forced to join the CTA, but teachers are still required to pay a fee to cover the cost of “collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment purposes,” a requirement allowed by the Supreme Court’s 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

“No individual should be forced to help fund a cause he or she does not support,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Regrettably, as the law stands, public employees are being forced to pay union fees, thus having their First Amendment rights violated. Arkansas is a right-to-work State, but the Court needs to acknowledge that public employees in this country should not be required to associate themselves with a union or the causes for which the union advocates.”

The State attorneys general believe the Court was incorrect to distinguish between union political activity and union collective bargaining, arguing that “it is time to abandon the meaningless distinction between collective bargaining and other political activity.” In the public sphere, the subjects of collective bargaining – pensions, wages, and the size of the government workforce – have the same public policy implications as other political activity.

The attorneys general also point out that collective bargaining was a major factor in multiple municipal bankruptcies including Detroit, Michigan; Stockton, California; and San Bernardino, California.

A copy of the brief is available by clicking here.

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