Lawsuit Against Mandatory Union Dues Moves Forward in California

Leah Barkoukis

1/10/2014 3:38:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis

A federal lawsuit filed last May against the mandatory payment of union dues is moving forward in the courts, Fox News reports, and will soon be heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The case was filed by a group of California public school teachers who say that being forced to pay union dues violates their right to free speech.

In states that do not have ‘right-to-work’ laws, like California, union members are forced to pay roughly $1,000 a year in dues that help finance political objectives some members may have objections to.

Union reps say those fees help their efforts to improve workplace safety, for instance, and get better contracts for all employees. They add that teachers can opt-out of paying dues that fund political activities.

But many teachers say opting out is a difficult and intimidating process and claim they face harassment and losing their liability insurance. Others say they get only a fraction of their money back.

“The unions are free to push whatever agenda they please,” says grade school teacher Rebecca Friedrichs, Fox News reports. “I have no problem with that, but I do have a problem with them taking my money to push an agenda with which I do not agree.”

While it’s OK if a teacher wants to join a union, it’s not OK for the state to not compel union membership, explains Terry Pell of the Center for Individual Rights, the group backing the teachers in court.