Stakes High in Public Union Supreme Court Case


Several hundred people showed up at the U.S. Supreme Court to support public-sector union workers who are under attack by anti-union forces.

Braving the cold morning air, several hundred people made their voices heard outside the U.S. Supreme Court this week during oral arguments for a case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, that threatens to gut public-sector unions.

Pankaj Sharma, a teacher from Niles, IL, says union representation allows teachers to focus on their students while still having a loud voice in collective bargaining.
A coalition of working people and supporters formed America Works Together to fight for better wages, benefits and communities across the country.

“Parents everywhere want their children’s teachers to be focused on the job at hand: educating their students,” said Pankaj Sharma, a teacher in Niles, IL. “By allowing the union to focus on negotiations, teachers can focus on what we love to do – teaching. That’s why unions are so important. They give working people the opportunity to speak in one loud voice.”

Inside the Court, justices heard arguments and must consider whether or not to overturn a 40-year-old Supreme Court decision, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That unanimous ruling established the right of public-sector unions to collect fair-share fees to cover expenses associated with collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance handling for all represented workers, even those who opt out of union membership.

Among this sitting Court’s items to consider is whether it will risk the serious implications of overturning a previous Court’s decision in a strongly partisan anti-union case. If the Court rules against the rights of this public worker union, chaos could occur across the spectrum of public employment.

“For the past several months, I’ve been closely following the Supreme Court case Friedrichs v. CTA,” said Lacy Barnes, a college instructor in Fresno, CA. “I know this case is being funded by the Koch brothers and other right-wing groups bent on attacking protections for the middle class, but I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will see through their manufactured assault on our rights.”

Visit America Works Together to learn more about the case and read stories from other concerned public service workers from across the country.