WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today rendered its affirming decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association upholding the powers of public unions in collective bargaining and sustaining their ability to collect dues from non-union workers who share in and receive union protections.
The Court in a 4-4 split decision, absent the vote of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, affirmed an appeals court ruling in favor of the California Teacher’s Association (CTA). In a one-line slip opinion, the court wrote,
“The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.”
The National Teachers Association joined the California Teachers Association as union respondents in the case.
“The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a political ploy to silence public employees like teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, higher education faculty and other educators to work together to shape their profession,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García in a written statement.
Tuesday’s decision left the Ninth Circuit appeals court ruling undisturbed and gave no indication as to the Court’s reasoning on the merits, precedent or parties’ arguments for or against. The Court, without indication, upheld the tenets of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, decided in May 1977.
“Collective bargaining rights allow educators, like me, to speak up for their students on important issues such as class sizes and high-stakes standardized tests,” said CTA President Eric C. Heins. “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court reaffirms that it is in the best interest of our students and our communities for educators to have a strong voice on the job.”
The Friedrichs case decision was one of several overshadowed by the death of the Court’s staunch conservative, Antonin Scalia in February and the first to be decided by this court without a full seating.
A focus of not only educators, but all public sector unions, the Supreme’s decision today was welcomed by union representatives across the country.
“This was a great decision for unions and working people. This case was about breaking unions and the power workers have when they join together, it had nothing to do with education,” Lawrence Purtill, President of NEARI wrote in an email on Tuesday. “The Koch Brothers and other right wing billionaires are attacking unions in an effort to increase their power. Working people need strong unions to stand up for salaries, benefits and pensions.”