Poll of teachers finds majority support paying fair share fees, fewer than one in six opposed
In Poll Conducted by Educators 4 Excellence, Teachers Show Clear Consensus on Question at Center of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association
December 17, 2015 (New York) – As the Supreme Court prepares for Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), a landmark case that challenges the ability of working people like educators to come together and form a union, a national survey of over 1,000 Educators 4 Excellence members finds a majority support paying the union’s “fair share” fees and are opposed to the plaintiffs’ position in this case.
A majority of teachers surveyed, 55 percent, stated that they should pay fair share fees to help cover the costs associated with negotiating a contract and representing all employees. Among the remainder, 28 percent were undecided and wanted to learn more about the case before making a determination; less than one in six, 16 percent, stated that teachers should not have to pay fair share fees.
At the heart of the Friedrichs v CTA case is a claim that the unions’ role in collective bargaining infringes on the First Amendment right of individual teachers, given that a teacher may not fully agree with the union on every position. Should the Supreme Court agree with this claim, it would mean that teachers could opt-out of paying “agency” or “fair share” fees that pay for contract negotiations while still benefiting from those contracts.
“A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs would likely come at a significant cost to our unions, and by extension, teachers who benefit from a strong, collective voice that speaks on behalf of their students and profession,” said Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Educators 4 Excellence Evan Stone. “As a teacher advocacy organization, we sought out educators’ views on this critical case because we know it could have a tremendous impact on their ability to have their voices heard and, so, the results are not surprising. This case is less about freedom of speech than it is about weakening unions’ ability to negotiate on behalf of working people.”
In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that the First Amendment permits the collection of fair share fees for collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment. The court has reaffirmed and applied Abood’s core holding in six subsequent cases over a 40-year period, five of which were unanimous.
“Unions are not perfect organizations and contracts are certainly imperfect documents, but disagreeing with the result of negotiations is not a justification to overturn decades of legal precedent. We may not always agree with our unions on every issue, but we respect and recognize that unions are among our teachers' greatest advocates. We share key common interests with our unions. We believe in a respected, elevated teaching profession. We believe in higher pay for teachers and a right to due process. We believe that student outcomes will improve if we spend more time listening to teachers. And we believe that teachers need more, not less, opportunities to collaborate and be represented as a community of leaders in education,” added Stone.
The Friedrichs case was filed to the Supreme Court by the Center for Individual Rights (CIR) on behalf of 10 California teachers. On June 30, 2015, the Supreme Court granted the petition filed by CIR. Oral arguments are scheduled to take place on Jan. 11, 2016.