War on Workers, Part 2: Who is really behind Friedrichs, and why

Morning Shift: “The end of fair share fees”

Hel-lo? … The business lobby and its ideological allies on the right have not pressed for right-to-work out of a passion for the First Amendment. They’ve sought to eliminate payments by nonmembers to labor unions — public sector unions in the case of Friedrichs — because they want to weaken unions. This is just about the worst-kept secret in America, but you wouldn’t have known that from hearing Roberts, Scalia, and DuMont Monday.

Capital & Main: “Could Friedrichs v. CTA Be Labor’s ‘Citizens United’?”

As usual, we turn to Capital & Main to explain the real issues and call out judicial activism by the same hypocritical right-wing corporate interests that decry “judicial activism” … when they believe someone else is doing it.

The case could go down as organized labor’s Citizens United — decimating membership, crippling the unions’ lobbying efficacy and effectively stifling the collective political voice of public-sector workers. …

In fact, Friedrichs has been literally tailored to [weaken teachers’ voice to advocate for students] and was fast-tracked through the California courts by the plaintiffs’ lawyers who asked judges to rule against them so that they could move the case up more quickly toward the Supreme Court.

“Clearly some justices believe that public-sector collective bargaining is bad,” University of California, Irvine law school professor Catherine Fisk told Capital & Main, “and so I think that Friedrichs was a case delivered by an activist litigation group to provide them the vehicle to hold that all public-sector collective bargaining has to be on a strictly right-to-work basis.”

PR Watch: “Right-Wing Network Puts Friedrichs v. California Teachers in Samuel Alito’s Lap”

The case that could cripple public-sector unions zoomed thought the courts specifically to climb into Alito’s lap and the lawyers for the Center for Individual Rights (CIR) are ready to dance. …

The strategy is “nefarious,” Frank Deale, a professor at the CUNY School of Law told American Prospect. “In fact, it’s collusive, in a way. You’re setting up this false scenario, this false conflict, in order to get a Supreme Court ruling. The Center for Individual Rights didn’t even make an argument [in the lower-court filings]. They asked for the court to rule for the defendant, and then they got rewarded for it.”

Salon: “SCOTUS v. the American worker: The upcoming Supreme Court case that could explode inequality”

There is a case heading to the Supreme Court this term that threatens to muzzle workers and further entrench staggering levels of economic inequality in our country, tipping the scales even further in the direction of corporate CEOs and wealthy special interests. …

And that is what’s at stake in this case: Corporate CEOs know that the ability to come together and speak in one voice is workers’ best tool to advocate for economic justice and workplace fairness. After launching successful efforts to push extreme anti-union policies through state legislatures, big money conservatives are using the courts to come after workers’ right to join together.

NY Times Editorial: “At the Supreme Court, a Big Threat to Unions”

In a 2014 ruling, Justice Alito dismissed the free-rider concern and claimed that those who support a union will willingly pay its dues, but this is contradicted by both common sense and experience.

States should continue to be free to fashion their own arrangements for handling labor relations. More than 20 have fair-share fee systems which encompass thousands of negotiated contracts representing millions of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public workers. All this could be upset by a ruling for the plaintiffs.

At the least, the court should be extremely wary, as it usually is, of upending long-settled precedent. The Abood ruling has stood, and been repeatedly reaffirmed, for nearly 40 years. It would be troubling if it was now reversed by a deeply divided vote.

Morning Shift: “Bonanza For Bradley?”

The conservative Bradley Foundation has spent millions over three decades to smash labor unions. Now an investment that could barely buy a house in Washington may bring it closer to that goal than ever before.

Bradley funds the Center for Individual Rights, the conservative D.C. nonprofit law firm that brought the Friedrichs case; it funds (or has funded) at least 11 organizations that submitted amicus briefs for the plaintiffs; and it’s funded a score of conservative organizations that support the lawsuit’s claim that fair-share fees are unconstitutional. When CIR first filed the case in a California federal court in 2013, the foundation posted the news on its website under the tab, “What We Do.”

Read: Part 1 | Part 3  | The View from California

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About Randy Lyman

SEIU Local 1021 Communications Dept.

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