California teachers refile “agency fees” lawsuit

A conservative group has joined with eight California educators in a lawsuit filed this week that seeks to eliminate the right of unions to collect mandatory “agency fees” from teachers — even if they are not full members.

Similar litigation challenging the fees failed last year when the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4, leaving the current policy in place. If this latest litigation were to reach the court following the confirmation of an appointee by President Trump, teachers unions could lose a key source of funding.

Agency fees, which are employed by unions in 23 states including California, are meant to cover the cost of representing teachers in such things as salary and benefit negotiations. Teachers can opt out of the portion of membership dues for activities labeled as political, but they still are on the hook for about two-thirds of the total.

For Los Angeles teachers, full union dues are $988 per year.

The complaint filed Monday in Santa Ana federal court asserts that most union activities, even salary and benefits negotiations, are “inherently political” because, for example, they involve decisions on how to use tax dollars.

“Forcing teachers to financially support causes that run counter to their political and policy beliefs is a clear violation of their 1st Amendment rights,” said Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, which is based in Washington, D.C. “Public school teachers deserve to choose for themselves, as many workers across the country do, whether or not to fund the union’s views.”

Read the whole story in the LA Times


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