A union member in this time of constant attacks on working families could understandably be excused for feeling battle weary. Every election, we are told, is the most important election, and every fight is the biggest fight against the longest odds. It is hard to cut through the hype and identify the real threats.
It’s important, though, to be aware of a U.S. Supreme Court case that may present us with a national challenge and a tremendous opportunity.
In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a group of educators backed by a right-wing pressure group filed a lawsuit that has made its way to the highest court in America. It asks the court to decide whether public sector unions may continue to charge nonmembers a fee equal to the cost of representing them to their employer.
This fee is called “agency fee” or “fair share.” In states where there is no fair share, the union must sign up everyone as a full member—not merely a fair share payer—to keep the union strong.