Case Before U.S. Supreme Court Could Cripple Public Sector Labor Unions

Posted Jan. 6, 2016

MP3 Interview with Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, conducted by Scott Harris


For almost 40 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the right of public sector labor unions to collect union dues from non-members that they represent as they negotiate with management on the issues of job site working conditions that benefit the entire workforce. But in the case known as Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which will be argued before the high court on Jan. 11, a group of non-union California teachers are litigating to prevent unions from collecting all fees related to collective bargaining, contract administration and the handling of employee grievances.

The plaintiffs, supported by the right-wing Center for Individual Rights that receives funding from the Koch Brothers, maintain that all spending by the union is inherently political and mandatory employee contributions to it thus constitute "compelled speech," which is generally prohibited by the First Amendment. The plaintiff's attorneys argue that the Supreme Court should overturn its ruling in the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case that concluded that fair share fees preventing "free rides" by non-union members was constitutional.

Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Caroline Fredrickson, president of the American Constitution Society, who discusses her group's work in alerting the public to the critical issues at stake for labor unions and all workers in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case.

For more information, visit The American Constitution Society at

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