Earlier today, the Supreme Court heard arguments for Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The plaintiffs (nonunion members) believe their First Amendment right to freedom of speech is violated when they are forced to pay “agency fees” to fund union political activities. ATR President Grover Norquist spoke at the rally outside the Supreme Court in protection of freedom, saying:
“The First Amendment is at risk. The right to work without having to pay somebody off to keep your job is at risk. What’s so disappointing and frightening is that this is so wrong and so obviously wrong: telling someone they can only keep their job if they pay the union.”
Norquist likened the forced union dues to a poll tax on work:
“This is real history. This is a big deal. There’s something that has been wrong in this country for a long time that has mistreated millions of people. We have allowed a poll tax on work. This court knocked down the poll tax many years ago and yet we’ve had one – a poll tax on workers. If you want to be a teacher, if you want to be a government employee, in at least 25 states there is no way to jump the hoops to get out of the poll tax.”
The Center for Worker Freedom’s Matt Patterson also spoke at the rally. In a column for Forbes in advance of the hearing, Patterson wrote:
“Why do unions want the government to be able to force workers in their fold? Union lawyers have argued, and will argue to the Supreme Court, that since unions are required to represent all workers in a unit for purposes of collective bargaining, all workers should have to pony up for that service. What a crock. In the private sector, unions are perfectly free to negotiate members-only contracts. They just never choose to do so. And in the public sector, state governments can allow unions to do the same. Unfortunately for Friedrichs and her co-litigants, California is not one of them, thanks to the death grip the teachers unions have on Sacramento.”
ATR expects a ruling in favor of Friedrichs and nonunion teachers, shifting the focus of education back to students and away from union politics.