Courtesy of Greg Schneider (www.gregschneider.com)

Rebecca Friedrichs, lead plaintiff in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

Attorneys for teachers who are challenging the right of the California Teachers Association to force them to pay union dues petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to hear their case this year. There’s a good chance that it will.

In Friedrichs v. CTA, 10 California public school teachers and the teachers group, Christian Educators Association International, argue that the state law allowing public unions to charge all employees fees to represent them violates their First Amendment speech rights. Victory in the Supreme Court would overturn similar laws in 25 other states and could severely weaken public employee unions’ clout by making all members’ dues voluntary. Two years after legislators rescinded Wisconsin’s mandatory dues laws, a third of that state’s teachers had stopped paying dues.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled in the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that teachers don’t have to pay that portion of dues that goes to political purposes, including electing candidates. That’s 30 to 40 percent of the approximately $1,000 in dues that California teachers pay annually.

But the Abood decision, which elementary school teacher Rebecca Friedrichs, of the Savanna School District in Anaheim, is challenging, also said states could require public employees to pay “agency fees.” That portion, with a piece going to CTA’s parent union, the National Education Association, covers negotiations for workplace conditions, pay and benefits, including lobbying in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., involving  those matters.

Agency fees protect against “free riders,” those who’d weaken the ability of unions to represent members by going along for the ride without paying. Requiring union members to cover negotiations is no more coercive than requiring people to pay taxes when they disagree with how government spends some of the money, Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe argued last year in a magazine article.

But the Center for Individual Rights in Washington, D.C., which brought the lawsuit for Friedrichs and the other plaintiffs, argues that public employee unions’ collective bargaining by its nature is “core political speech indistinguishable from lobbying.” Teachers who disagree over a union’s positions not only on pay and benefits but also policy issues involving tenure, class size and teacher evaluations should not be forced to subsidize those views, the center states.

“There is no principal way to resolve the disagreements,” Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, said in an interview. “Everything the union does is political.”

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito appears to agree. Writing for the 5-4 majority last year in in Harris v. Quinn, a narrow decision involving Illinois health-care workers, Alito referred to the “questionable foundations” of the Abood decision and appeared to encourage a broader case raising the First Amendment issues.

Friedrichs would appear to qualify. Filed in 2013, the lawsuit sped through federal district court and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, both of which expedited it at the plaintiffs’ request, out of recognition that it’s a matter for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide.

If the Supreme Court won’t fully overturn Abood, the teachers have a fallback request: throw out California’s law that requires employees to annually opt out of the dues portion going to political purposes. Saying it puts too much burden on teachers, the lawsuit wants an opt-in system, with the onus on a union to sign up employees willing to chip in.

It takes four of nine Supreme Court judges to agree to hear a case. Pell is confident they will do so and hear oral arguments in the fall, with a decision likely in 2016.


Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Comments Policy

The goal of the comments section on EdSource is to facilitate thoughtful conversation about content published on our website. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

Expand Comments
Collapse Comments
  1. John Stewart 11 months ago11 months ago

    Is everything a business says political? If not, then how can everything a union says be political? It seems that the plaintiffs feel that there is something unnatural about collective bargaining or that it is a divisive political issue whether or not workers can bargain that way.

  2. Andrew 1 year ago1 year ago

    I have heard that Finland has very powerful teachers' unions. I keep hearing the phrase "We can't fire our way to Finland." Curious, I studied the matter a bit: In Finland, entry into the teaching profession is extremely selective and very competitive, only the highest achieving candidates gaining entry, and teaching is considered the highest status profession. All teacher preparation occurs in one of the highly regarded universities, not in … Read More

    I have heard that Finland has very powerful teachers’ unions. I keep hearing the phrase “We can’t fire our way to Finland.” Curious, I studied the matter a bit:

    In Finland, entry into the teaching profession is extremely selective and very competitive, only the highest achieving candidates gaining entry, and teaching is considered the highest status profession. All teacher preparation occurs in one of the highly regarded universities, not in for-profit diploma mills. Only one out of every ten applicants is admitted into teacher training in the competitive process.

    The highest salary in Finnish teacher salary scales is only about 30% higher than the lowest and though salaries are adequate, they are not considered high relative to other professions. This in contrast to the US where senior union teachers establish scales that pay themselves as much as 250% more than newer teachers.

    Because standards for entry into the Finnish teaching profession are so very high, teachers are regarded by administration with a great deal of trust and are given much autonomy. Because there is no doubt that teacher quality is highest, standardized tests are not used to assess teacher quality. Teacher education is heavily research based, with a strong emphasis on pedagogical content knowledge, and the first year of teaching is spent at a university affiliated school under supervision of a university supervisor.

    Turnover is very low, and 90% of those who start teaching in Finland make it a life-long career.

    In a US interview, Finland’s minister of education was asked about unions. She responded:

    “It’s a totally different situation in Finland. For me, as Minister of Education, our teacher’s union has been one of the main partners because we have the same goal: we all want to ensure that the quality of education is good, and we are working very much together with the union. Nearly every week we are in discussions with them. They are very powerful in Finland. Nearly all of the teachers are members. I think we don’t have big differences in our thinking. They are very good partners for us.”

    Asked about diversity, she noted that in some schools 30% of the pupils were immigrants and in Helsinki there is teaching in 44 different mother tongues in an effort to integrate immigrant pupils.

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      Great comment, Andrew. "Finnish education often seems paradoxical to outside observers because it appears to break a lot of the rules we take for granted. Finnish children don’t begin school until age 7. They have more recess, shorter school hours than many U.S. children do (nearly 300 fewer hours per year in elementary school), and the lightest homework load of any industrialized nation. There are no gifted programs, almost no private schools, and no high-stakes national … Read More

      Great comment, Andrew.

      “Finnish education often seems paradoxical to outside observers because it appears to break a lot of the rules we take for granted. Finnish children don’t begin school until age 7. They have more recess, shorter school hours than many U.S. children do (nearly 300 fewer hours per year in elementary school), and the lightest homework load of any industrialized nation. There are no gifted programs, almost no private schools, and no high-stakes national standardized tests. Yet over the past decade Finland has consistently performed among the top nations on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year olds in 65 nations and territories around the world.”

      Source – theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/finnish-education-chief-we-created-a-school-system-based-on-equality/284427/

      • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

        America has normalized and accepted as socially acceptable a whole range of behaviors virtually unheard of in Northern Europe. Bullying, watching more TV than reading and studying, cursing, disruption, drugs, fighting, loud jokes, and being cool over being smart are all considered respectable behavior for a child with any level of poverty or challenge at all. Really, only an intact upper middle class family with educated parents will have their child looked down … Read More

        America has normalized and accepted as socially acceptable a whole range of behaviors virtually unheard of in Northern Europe. Bullying, watching more TV than reading and studying, cursing, disruption, drugs, fighting, loud jokes, and being cool over being smart are all considered respectable behavior for a child with any level of poverty or challenge at all. Really, only an intact upper middle class family with educated parents will have their child looked down upon for such behavior, and it is not at all uncommon for rich people to act this way. W Bush was lazy in school, did cocaine, drove drunk, partied, barely studied, watched tons of TV, and we made him President, and he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Any such behavior in Finland is viewed as ridiculous, even if you are of below average income with a single parent. It would be considered outrageous to spend less time studying than watching TV, and it’s the norm here. That is what makes comparisons between the two nations very difficult. Finland now is how the U.S. was in the ’50s and before, but with a more intellectual and artistic bent. In the ’50s here, many kids were well behaved but spaced out, not learning enough. In Finland they are very intellectually engaged in the process. If you have that, you always succeed.

        • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

          Floyd, where do you get your info on Finland? The Finnish experience seems not at all what you describe. This article and others on Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish education expert with extensive experience in the field including teaching and policy, says otherwise. The American propensity to pile on more homework and quantity in general is counter to the Finnish success story. He also tells how Finnish children watch a lot of TV, but … Read More

          Floyd, where do you get your info on Finland? The Finnish experience seems not at all what you describe.

          This article and others on Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish education expert with extensive experience in the field including teaching and policy, says otherwise. The American propensity to pile on more homework and quantity in general is counter to the Finnish success story. He also tells how Finnish children watch a lot of TV, but with a caveat – subtitles.

          greatschools.org/print-view/improvement/international-comparisons/slideshows/3110-finnish-educational-paradox.gs

      • Andrew 1 year ago1 year ago

        Could a charter school be established on the Finnish model here? I realize that the entire US or California system cannot be transformed quickly into such a model. Much education here, including charter education, follows somewhat of a Wal-Mart model of employee selection and management. Credential and hire just about anyone, even if just temporarily, and then hope that with enough top down micro-management, structure and and cajoling they will … Read More

        Could a charter school be established on the Finnish model here? I realize that the entire US or California system cannot be transformed quickly into such a model.

        Much education here, including charter education, follows somewhat of a Wal-Mart model of employee selection and management. Credential and hire just about anyone, even if just temporarily, and then hope that with enough top down micro-management, structure and and cajoling they will produce a somewhat acceptable experience for patrons.

        A Finnish model charter in contrast might start by very selectively hiring only a small proportion of teacher candidates with the highest qualifications. Then make it the highest priority to treat them very well, with trust, respect and autonomy, endeavoring to become their career-long home. Student enrollment capacity would be determined by how many such extraordinary teachers could be engaged. Relatively shorter Finnish style school days would leave time for teacher prep and development.

        I suspect that everything else, including student achievement and long term teacher retention, would tend to fall into place if this were the foundation. If there were a union involved, it would not need to squander its energy and finances protecting and rationalizing for the less intellectually or morally competent teachers, which would be all but non-existent, but it could be a true partner in promoting the highest quality education. Parents would line up on wait lists to have their kids in such a school. Parents would tend to be in respectful awe of such highly qualified teachers. Working in such a school would be a badge of highest honor. Is this a hopeless dream?

        • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

          Andrew, you cannot replicate the Finnish experience in a lab as the results are engrained in the whole culture and national policy as described in this Smithsonian piece on Finnish public schools. "Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and assess their students. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths … Read More

          Andrew, you cannot replicate the Finnish experience in a lab as the results are engrained in the whole culture and national policy as described in this Smithsonian piece on Finnish public schools.

          “Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and assess their students. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”

          “It’s almost unheard of for a child to show up hungry or homeless. Finland provides three years of maternity leave and subsidized day care to parents, and preschool for all 5-year-olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing. In addition, the state subsidizes parents, paying them around 150 euros per month for every child until he or she turns 17. Ninety-seven percent of 6-year-olds attend public preschool, where children begin some academics. Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Stu­dent health care is free.”

          Read more: smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-

          • Andrew 1 year ago1 year ago

            Points well taken, Don. What you describe sounds a lot more like how we homeschooled our kids K-12. A relaxed unhurried education, short hours of formal education with lots of unstructured play in a beautiful remote mountain valley in the West, with abundant recreation in every season. A suitably enriched general environment provides quality education without formalizing it into drudgery. In our scenario "Andrew" was the state … Read More

            Points well taken, Don. What you describe sounds a lot more like how we homeschooled our kids K-12. A relaxed unhurried education, short hours of formal education with lots of unstructured play in a beautiful remote mountain valley in the West, with abundant recreation in every season. A suitably enriched general environment provides quality education without formalizing it into drudgery. In our scenario “Andrew” was the state and commuted a long way several days a week to provide 25 years of maternity leave and free health insurance and all the things that the Finnish state provides financially. Despite lots of things we did wrong and would do differently and better, the outcomes were extraordinary academically and otherwise. Kids were simply not made to sit in rows of hard plastic chairs for hours a day, they were made to run and explore and discover and develop curiosity.

            Speaking of labs and education, what we did in homeschooling is consistent with an interesting well controlled study with random assignments to controls and intervention that excited some attention 30 years ago, resulting in what is referred to as “Bloom’s 2 Sigma Problem” which is described in wikipedia. Benjamin Bloom divided students into a control group receiving conventional education and an intervention group receiving education only through tutoring one-on-one (or in groups of not more than three), with individualized (differentiated) accommodation and 90% mastery required before moving on. The tutoring wasn’t provided by “experts” but by undergrad education students. The “average” randomly selected tutor educated student scored above 98% of the students in the control class, though hours were shorter for tutored students. Essentially, this is exactly what we did in the formal part of our early home based education. The kids ultimately grew out of it and were able to do it all, as well, on their own and without the tutoring.

            The question remains whether it is possible through very good use of advanced technology to replicate via computerized individualized learning with an emphasis on mastery what Bloom’s tutors accomplished.

            • Manuel 1 year ago1 year ago

              Andrew, I am curious, is your homeschooling experience scalable to, say, 70% of the US children out there? From Appalachia to LA's South Central to Boston's Southie? How many other American parents have the educational background to hold the type of job you had (and the ability to commute to some Shangri-La in through all kinds of weather) and the training to offer such educational enrichment to their children? That should be scalable, no? Also, how many … Read More

              Andrew, I am curious, is your homeschooling experience scalable to, say, 70% of the US children out there? From Appalachia to LA’s South Central to Boston’s Southie?

              How many other American parents have the educational background to hold the type of job you had (and the ability to commute to some Shangri-La in through all kinds of weather) and the training to offer such educational enrichment to their children? That should be scalable, no?

              Also, how many of these jobs do you think are available out there? Is that scalable too?

              Oh, and do you think your own children will be able to replicate what you did for them? They should, shouldn’t they? After all, you trained them well.

              As for Finland, those people are clearly Commies. Can the good ol’ USofA afford to pay parents to $169.95 (150 euros) for each child? You’d have welfare queens dropping kids every nine months! We can’t have this in the land of the free and home of the brave. No, siree… Plus the Finnish pay their teachers way too much money. Last I heard, they have fewer students in the whole country than LAUSD has in its district. And none of them are classified as living below the poverty line while 76% of LAUSD’s students qualify for Title I. Comparing Finland to the US is like comparing apples to gorillas. Both of them have a high amount of water, but that’s about it.

            • Andrew 1 year ago1 year ago

              Manuel, I wouldn't say it is scalable for most. But it is available for many, if it is what they want, even with modest incomes. When time came for us to have a home and family and provide for our children's educations, we felt we were faced with a Hobbesian choice. We happened to be in an urban area at the time. At first blush, we had two choices. … Read More

              Manuel, I wouldn’t say it is scalable for most. But it is available for many, if it is what they want, even with modest incomes. When time came for us to have a home and family and provide for our children’s educations, we felt we were faced with a Hobbesian choice. We happened to be in an urban area at the time. At first blush, we had two choices. We could buy an affordable home in a high-crime urban area with notoriously poor schools, but without undue financial stress. Or my wife and I could both work long and hard hours, stretch our budget to the limit, and barely afford house payments on a high priced city home in a “desirable” neighborhood with “top” schools and low crime rates. But with lots of financial stress and little quality time with our kids. We decided neither was acceptable nor affordable, given the full cost.

              We found that if you weren’t holding out for a ski resort region like Telluride or Mammoth Lakes, you could as we did buy a well built cabin in a beautiful mountain setting for under $100,000, and with very modest monthly payments. With no need for air conditioning in summer, electric bills are minimal. You heat mostly with wood you cut yourself in winter. You make most of your own inexpensive meals from scratch. Unlike the city where everything you do seems to be expensive, there isn’t a lot to spend money on. One modest income can cover all of the essentials and then some, allowing a family to live and homeschool in a beautiful crime free area in relative relaxation. It certainly helps if both spouses have highly marketable skills and one of them commutes to work somewhere. An ideal job would be something like an RN, working three days a week in the usual 12 hour shifts, generating enough income to support the modest family needs and providing medical and dental benefits for the family, leaving enough free days to fully enjoy family life. But some of the families we knew and networked with had one spouse working as a public school teacher.

              Some parents who did this successfully were highly educated, some were not. Those who were not, and who were successful, educated themselves in the homeschooling process and provided their children with the most important example a child can have – an adult who loves learning and who models the learning process for the children.

              This is not for everyone. The last ones in the world who should be homeschooling are the so called “Tiger Moms”. They are not nearly relaxed or patient enough, they make learning arduous and unpleasant, and their kids need the break from them that public education affords. We can’t provide the sort of environment and education that I describe for all kids. But lets give them as much of it as we can. Kids and nature belong together. Most school settings isolate kids from nature as effectively as our prisons isolate the inmates. Surely we can do better for our kids, and their teachers.

            • el 1 year ago1 year ago

              I don't see Andrew's solution as scalable in the existing US, but I do see it as a fundamental suggestion that school "reform" is misdirected, that if we want to be like Finland, that this is not something that schools can do but something that our larger culture needs to do - that providing access to health care, 6 weeks paid vacation, time for play and independent learning, etc, is more important than changing up … Read More

              I don’t see Andrew’s solution as scalable in the existing US, but I do see it as a fundamental suggestion that school “reform” is misdirected, that if we want to be like Finland, that this is not something that schools can do but something that our larger culture needs to do – that providing access to health care, 6 weeks paid vacation, time for play and independent learning, etc, is more important than changing up the curriculum or sitting kids down at desks in a schoolroom for more hours a day.

            • Andrew 1 year ago1 year ago

              Enough of my words. Time for a poem from the anthology "Homelife in Song," circa 1879, liberated to our cabin from a used bookstore on one of our innumerable family trips there . . . COUNTRY CHILDREN Little fresh violets, Born in the Wildwood; Sweetly illustrating Innocent childhood: Shy as the antelope -- Brown as a berry -- Free as the mountain air, Romping and merry. Blue eyes … Read More

              Enough of my words. Time for a poem from the anthology “Homelife in Song,” circa 1879, liberated to our cabin from a used bookstore on one of our innumerable family trips there . . .

              COUNTRY CHILDREN

              Little fresh violets,
              Born in the Wildwood;
              Sweetly illustrating
              Innocent childhood:
              Shy as the antelope —
              Brown as a berry —
              Free as the mountain air,
              Romping and merry.

              Blue eyes and hazel eyes
              Peep from the hedges,
              Shaded by sun-bonnets,
              Frayed at the edges!
              Up in the apple trees,
              Careless of danger,
              Manhood in embryo
              Stares at the stranger.

              Out in the hilly patch,
              Seeking the berries —
              Under the orchard trees,
              Feasting on cherries —
              Trampling the clover blooms,
              Down ‘mong the grasses,
              No voice to hinder them,
              Dear lads and lasses!

              No grim propriety —
              No interdiction;
              Free as the birdlings
              From city restriction!
              Coining the purest blood,
              Strength’ning each muscle,
              Donning health armor
              “Gainst life’s coming bustle.

              Dear little innocents!
              Born in the wildwood;
              Oh, that all little ones
              Had such a childhood!
              Blue skies spread over them,
              Earth’s green beneath them
              No sweeter heritage
              Could we bequeathe them.

  3. Barbara 1 year ago1 year ago

    I hope these teachers understand that teachers in non-union states make about 1/2 of what teachers in union states make. I’m just saying. Do they want to make 30,000 a year? Then keep bashing unions.

    What makes me angry is that your selfishness will cost teachers their livelihoods. It’s a race to the bottom now.

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      It doesn’t strike me as selfish to opt to make less money, at least not be the standard definition.

      Barbara, there are still some people left who prize their freedom more than money.

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        by

      • TheMorrigan 1 year ago1 year ago

        “some people left who prize their freedom more than money”

        And then there are some who just want their “freedom” and some more money, huh?

      • Andrew 1 year ago1 year ago

        Younger, newer teachers in California make half of what older senior teachers make in most union determined salary schedules. This regardless of the fact that the younger teachers do the same work, and pull in the same ADA, and regardless of the quality of teaching. This inequity results because California intra-union democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for dinner. And the younger, newer teachers get voted to be … Read More

        Younger, newer teachers in California make half of what older senior teachers make in most union determined salary schedules. This regardless of the fact that the younger teachers do the same work, and pull in the same ADA, and regardless of the quality of teaching.

        This inequity results because California intra-union democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner. And the younger, newer teachers get voted to be dinner. Dinner when they make half as much for the same hard work. Dinner when they are first to be laid off under LIFO even though senior teachers may be less effective. And since the younger teachers cannot opt out of paying union dues presently, they not only get to be dinner, but they get to pay for dinner.

        I will be fascinated if Friedrichs and her fellow teachers prevail before the US Supreme Court. Newer teachers will not longer be forced to pay for the union that keeps their pay cut in half and forces them to be laid off first no matter how good the newer teachers are and how bad senior teachers are. I assume that many newer teachers will opt out of a union that does so little to represent their interests, but is so solicitous to senior teachers.

        • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

          Very true Andrew, it is a horribly unfair system. Teachers should be paid based on value add. It seems the compensation system was designed to ensure hardcore union support by the majority. The compensation should be designed to maximize the educational experience and outcomes of students. It makes no sense. Then somehow the unfair disparity is used by union backers to argue principals shouldn't be able to fire teachers because … Read More

          Very true Andrew, it is a horribly unfair system. Teachers should be paid based on value add. It seems the compensation system was designed to ensure hardcore union support by the majority. The compensation should be designed to maximize the educational experience and outcomes of students. It makes no sense. Then somehow the unfair disparity is used by union backers to argue principals shouldn’t be able to fire teachers because senior teachers might be fired for being more expensive. Well if you make double you have to be worth double. Pay should be based on contribution, not seniority. You couldn’t create a system less geared towards rewarding and encouraging hard work, innovation and dedication. It’s amazing so many teachers are excellent in such a system, but it holds back education for children overall.

          • Andrew 1 year ago1 year ago

            Oppression of vulnerable others (“because we can”), self-interested and rationalized inequity, and financial greed do not appear to be the exclusive province of Wall Street capitalists.

          • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

            Funny. A college graduate’s weekly earnings are about double what a high school diploma worker’s are. Vice versa for unemployment rate. Maybe we should pay teachers whose students graduate college double what we pay teachers whose students don’t.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Though there is considerable debate currently about the "value" of a college education, i.e., about whether the increases in earning power are worth the rising costs of a college education. This, of course reduces the "worth" of education purely to its economic value and not to all of the other values it accrues. Consistent in many ways to US historical "pragmatism" interwoven with "anti-intellectualism." However, there is little doubt about the benefits to workers of being … Read More

              Though there is considerable debate currently about the “value” of a college education, i.e., about whether the increases in earning power are worth the rising costs of a college education. This, of course reduces the “worth” of education purely to its economic value and not to all of the other values it accrues. Consistent in many ways to US historical “pragmatism” interwoven with “anti-intellectualism.”

              However, there is little doubt about the benefits to workers of being unionized. Below a quote from a recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics report:

              “Union workers continue to receive higher wages than nonunion workers and have greater access to most employer-sponsored employee benefits; during the 2001–2011 period, the differences between union and non- union benefit cost levels appear to have widened.”

              And here we get to the crux of the attack of the one-percent on unions, and public sector unions in particular. The “billionaire boys club” as Diane Ravitch has described them has been relentless in attacking the unions in order to undermine that value brought to union membership. But it goes beyond neo-liberal, conservative and libertarian oligarchs attacking working people. As I have suggested, to find out just how far out on the right-fringe the backers of this lawsuit are, go to the original EdSource article on the topic and research the funders.

            • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

              Gary, there is no doubt to the value of a college education. Those who have one earn nearly double. It’s increasing.

        • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

          Andrew, on this issue I disagree with you, unless I've mistaken what you've said, as Navigio claims I do. You've made a case in various comments to the effect that teachers vary in quality. So why argue they should be paid as much or nearly as much as more veteran teachers - "the younger teachers do the same work, and pull in the same ADA, and regardless of the quality of … Read More

          Andrew, on this issue I disagree with you, unless I’ve mistaken what you’ve said, as Navigio claims I do. You’ve made a case in various comments to the effect that teachers vary in quality. So why argue they should be paid as much or nearly as much as more veteran teachers – “the younger teachers do the same work, and pull in the same ADA, and regardless of the quality of teaching”? If the idea is to incentivize teachers to do the best job logically you cannot hold that position and simultaneously press for more standardization of teacher salaries. I don’t know why anyone would go into the profession if they thought there was little opportunity to grow professionally and earn commensurately more. You said many times you’d have to be stupid to do so. I’m just insulted by the notion that the call of teaching is a noble one. If we believe that, then why disrespect teachers by giving minimal salary adjustments?

          • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

            Pay should be commensurate with value. I do think pay should go up, but only with what is proven to be correlated with value. I don't think double the pay is accurate. I think it is designed to ensure union groupthink. The majority will always be senior or imagine themselves soon being senior. Kids come first. What's best for kids is paying based on the value teachers provide. … Read More

            Pay should be commensurate with value. I do think pay should go up, but only with what is proven to be correlated with value. I don’t think double the pay is accurate. I think it is designed to ensure union groupthink. The majority will always be senior or imagine themselves soon being senior. Kids come first. What’s best for kids is paying based on the value teachers provide. I believe 1.5 times would allow higher pay for starting teachers and some growth. Further growth should be available in merit pay, bonuses for outstanding performance, tutoring on Saturdays and teaching Summer School, Coaching, bonuses for not calling in sick or doing so very rarely, bonuses for great test scores, good reviews, etc.

        • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

          You know, the problem with ideologues isn’t so much the ideology, it’s how tiresome they are.

          • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

            Odd that Gary should reply and insult me as a boring anti-union ideologue when my comment was a refutation of an anti-union position. I guess he didn’t bother the actually read the comment before replying to it. I can see how that could be boring.

        • el 1 year ago1 year ago

          “Younger, newer teachers in California make half of what older senior teachers make in most union determined salary schedules.”

          True for most non-unionized engineers too. Or physicians. Or lawyers. In fact, in most knowledge-based professions.

    • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

      Barbara, in America, politicians generally win by going to the middle between the two extremes. Part of this is due to those states being mostly lower income/lower GDP/lower cost-of-living states, mostly states from the Confederacy which tried to keep slavery and Jim Crow Laws and now, anti-gay attitudes and laws. These states are behind in all jobs, engineers make less, lawyers make a fraction (West Virginia pays lawyers 65k who would start at … Read More

      Barbara, in America, politicians generally win by going to the middle between the two extremes. Part of this is due to those states being mostly lower income/lower GDP/lower cost-of-living states, mostly states from the Confederacy which tried to keep slavery and Jim Crow Laws and now, anti-gay attitudes and laws. These states are behind in all jobs, engineers make less, lawyers make a fraction (West Virginia pays lawyers 65k who would start at 150k here and is within U.S. offshoring some legal work which doesn’t require a California BAR, though they are limited from doing some work).

      Politicians win by going to the middle. The teacher’s union is right to fight for higher pay. However, they made a huge mistake in deciding to make no effort to police their own, discourage teachers from taking days off they don’t need by making it 11 days with no questions asked, which hurts kids a lot when a teacher takes a day off they don’t need to and they get an uninspired sub.

      They made a huge mistake in making it nearly impossible to fire bad teachers. I was always very pro-union and to this day will not cross a picket line at Safeway, CVS, or any store in which there is a strike. However, my kids have suffered due to bad teachers and the union is complicit in this. I had one show up 70 of 180 days, continually call in sick for false reasons, yet not allow them to get a permanent sub because she wouldn’t take the time off. 22 of 22 parents complained and this damaged a 1st grade class. I was told that maybe she had a unique series of ailments, by union members, we were being unfair, it may be the first time, and then I found out that at her previous school she had done the same thing and union rules prevent parents or administrators from being able to look at records from past schools.

      The union makes it nearly impossible to fire bad teachers even full knowing this hurts kids. The union made the decision to force LAUSD to pay $40,300 to Mark Berndt while he was out on bail, charged with molesting over 100 children. He later got a 26 year sentence and will be out in his 80s, but the union made it so he has a full $20 a week maximum for his commissary account for his entire sentence and he blew 10k on it before he went in.

      The union has no balance. The truth is in the middle. Should principals be able to fire people at will with no consequences based on personal preference? Absolutely not, but no one is proposing this? Should all promotions, pay and lay offs be based on number of years taught rather than ability, productivity, reviews from managers, parents, children, test score improvement/value add, attendance? No.

      The union went to an extreme and it was so incredibly extreme they lost the support of most people. I was very pro union but I couldn’t reconcile it with what is best for children and helping poor children have a chance in the world through good teachers who work to overcome their disadvantages.

      Counselors often have a strategy of being dismissive of complaints because nothing can be done. I had a counselor act shocked when I complained about one very bad teacher and say no one had complained about her, then heard from ten other parents over the next 3 years, horrible complaints, worse than what my daughter went through.

      You can’t defend either extreme. But Vergara supporters are not trying to. We just want more than 10 a year fired statewide. 90-95% of teachers are good, but they suffer but supporting the bad ones as if they were a noble cause. They are not. If you call in sick knowing it hurts 100 kids and then go see a movie, you’re not a noble cause. Children and their futures are a noble cause. These are the facts, and they are undisputed.

      What is more important to liberalism? Guaranteeing every teacher has a job for life, even if it hurts kids and the teacher could do a better job, or giving low income and disadvantaged children a realistic chance at the American Dream through education?

    • Andrew 1 year ago1 year ago

      Just pulled a job post from edjoin. A unionized unified school district advertising for a fully qualified SPED teacher within 100 miles of LA. The certificated salary schedule for the slot ranges from $34,970 to $87,627, DOE. How much lower would the beginning salary be if the teachers in this district were not unionized? A new non-union charter school servicing the same region starts $10,000 a year higher. … Read More

      Just pulled a job post from edjoin. A unionized unified school district advertising for a fully qualified SPED teacher within 100 miles of LA. The certificated salary schedule for the slot ranges from $34,970 to $87,627, DOE.

      How much lower would the beginning salary be if the teachers in this district were not unionized? A new non-union charter school servicing the same region starts $10,000 a year higher. What is the union doing for the new teacher starting at $34,970, besides using that low salary to subsidize the senior folks dominating the union and pulling in $87, 627? And is the union presently pulling full mandatory union dues out of that meager $34,970? The newer teacher has to pay the union for doing such a great job setting up the senior dominated salary schedule?

      • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

        Andrew: The interesting thing about newer teachers who stick with the profession is, barring various unforeseen circumstances, they become senior teachers. Most new teachers in my experience, don't contemplate being new forever. Unions are obligated to operate, including bargaining, in a democratic manner. Teachers understand that the bargaining team develops proposals and bargains with administration based on the greatest good for the greatest number. If the union doesn't do that, the membership votes the leadership out … Read More

        Andrew:

        The interesting thing about newer teachers who stick with the profession is, barring various unforeseen circumstances, they become senior teachers. Most new teachers in my experience, don’t contemplate being new forever. Unions are obligated to operate, including bargaining, in a democratic manner. Teachers understand that the bargaining team develops proposals and bargains with administration based on the greatest good for the greatest number. If the union doesn’t do that, the membership votes the leadership out and replaces them with leaders who will. Developing salary schedules is more complex than it may seem to the uninitiated, but it is a zero sum game. If you are putting dollars in somewhere you are not putting them somewhere else. You could raise beginning salaries by $10K and then pull the same amount out of the middle, or the top, or some combination.

        If a school district was experiencing significant difficulties attracting new teachers and it discovered that was primarily due to low starting salaries, presumably the district would bring a proposal to raise starting salaries to the table.

        When teachers are district hunting, and demographics suggest we are again going to be approaching one of those times,they look at starting salaries, they look at step and column (how quickly the can proceed across the salary schedule, and the look at top salaries as a comparative measure against other local districts. Keeping all aspects “healthy” is a goal of both the union and administration as it keeps what is considered a “competitive” schedule. It is not a unilateral union issue.

  4. Frank 1 year ago1 year ago

    The "too much burden" for agency fee payers to opt out of contributing to political contributions, at least for the teachers bringing this case, involves responding to an annual notification by completing a simple form that that is mailed to them and returning it. That's it. There is greater burden each month in paying their phone bill or taking roll in their classrooms each day. If successful, these teachers will enjoy the salary increases, health benefits, … Read More

    The “too much burden” for agency fee payers to opt out of contributing to political contributions, at least for the teachers bringing this case, involves responding to an annual notification by completing a simple form that that is mailed to them and returning it. That’s it. There is greater burden each month in paying their phone bill or taking roll in their classrooms each day.

    If successful, these teachers will enjoy the salary increases, health benefits, working conditions (including class size caps) and job protections that their colleagues pay to negotiate, and, under the law, the union will still be obligated to represent them individually on any matter covered under the contract (and believe me, having worked in union situations without agency fee, non-payers are often the first to come in for help). The current system works extremely well for those who have strong disagreements on political issues or candidates that they don’t want their money used for. To strike down agency fee laws would enable–there’s no other word for it–freeloading.

  5. SactoJim 1 year ago1 year ago

    Hmm. Do these teachers teach their students to steal? To take the benefit of someone else's work on their behalf & try to get it for nothing? That's what this complaint is. These teachers have the union negotiate on their behalf for compensation & worksite conditions - surely getting a better deal than they'd get negotiating themselves alone - but they don't want to pay for it. As long as you get the benefit of … Read More

    Hmm. Do these teachers teach their students to steal? To take the benefit of someone else’s work on their behalf & try to get it for nothing?

    That’s what this complaint is.

    These teachers have the union negotiate on their behalf for compensation & worksite conditions – surely getting a better deal than they’d get negotiating themselves alone – but they don’t want to pay for it.

    As long as you get the benefit of the unions labor you have to pay your “fair share” for the benefits. If you don’t want to pay for political activities, that’s fine, reduce the cost by that amount, but you do have to pay for the cost of negotiating your contract.

  6. el 1 year ago1 year ago

    You know, even though I didn’t vote for Bush, I still had to pay for his wars.

    Part of the democratic process is that you elect your leaders and give them their mission. At the district level, the union has substantial autonomy to negotiate for the contract the teachers want locally, and whether to emphasize class size, salaries, programs, or benefits, or some combination thereof. The “principal way to resolve disagreements” is via a vote.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

      Well said; however, what is often glossed over is the fact that “negotiations” means two parties are at the table and the process results in some compromise between management/board proposals and union proposals.

    • don 1 year ago1 year ago

      That’s all well and good, but what does it have to do with Friedrichs? This case is about whether a teacher ought to be compelled to pay dues; not about a union vote.

    • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

      You describe the situation as it stands today. Teachers get the benefits of union bargaining, but do not have to become union members and qualify for a rebate on those portions of dues used for political purposes. The rebate amounts are calculated bu accounting firms, not by the union. If folks go back to the original article on this case and look up those funding this "teachers" efforts I think most of you will be … Read More

      You describe the situation as it stands today. Teachers get the benefits of union bargaining, but do not have to become union members and qualify for a rebate on those portions of dues used for political purposes. The rebate amounts are calculated bu accounting firms, not by the union.

      If folks go back to the original article on this case and look up those funding this “teachers” efforts I think most of you will be repelled. Note: I did say most of you. It’s a couple go google clicks away. The truth is out there.

  7. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    Folks can look at a recent Bloomberg news article: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/3444145-181/flavelle-how-unions-could-help The piece is on how unions could help Republicans on the wage issue they have just discovered. It appears a number of them will lovingly embrace the "scurrilous" 47% of "takers" for 2016. The article rightly shows that even the densest of politicians (and there was a real lineup in Iowa in recent days and a literal treasure trove for late night comedians) should understand that the … Read More

    Folks can look at a recent Bloomberg news article:

    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/3444145-181/flavelle-how-unions-could-help

    The piece is on how unions could help Republicans on the wage issue they have just discovered. It appears a number of them will lovingly embrace the “scurrilous” 47% of “takers” for 2016.

    The article rightly shows that even the densest of politicians (and there was a real lineup in Iowa in recent days and a literal treasure trove for late night comedians) should understand that the flat wages and increasing economic disparities in the US are becoming meaningful to their base. A base that has aggressively ignored the fact that for many election cycles they have voted against their own self-interest to support some wedge issue or another.

    The fact is, if you look at middle/working-class wages that have declined over the course of several decades there is a parallel decline in union membership. Some will assert that only represents “correlation” and not “causation,” but the reason correlations are revealing is that they might well point to causal factors. Then there is the “common sense” factor: A significant decline in the number of middle-class unionized households occurs simultaneously as there is a decline in household middle-class house incomes.

    I have doubts that common sense is going to suddenly overwhelm the current majority on the Supreme Court so we are likely to get something on the order of gutting the Voting Rights Act and/or Citizens United one more time. We shall see.

    And, again for all the ritualized finger-pointing at teachers’ unions that goes on the facts remain that the highest achieving states in the US are all solidly unionized states. The lowest performing states have no teachers’ unions to speak of. And the highest performing school systems in the world all have solid teachers’ union membership.

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      If you’re correct it shouldn’t be a problem to have solid voluntary membership in unions. The issue here is whether it should be a legal requirement.

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        Or at least whether some portion of the dues (the agency or core fee) should be a requirement. UESF supports all sorts of causes and candidates I don’t support and why should I have to if I worked as a teacher for SFUSD? If you go to a union meeting and express a contrary view they shut you down. They are nasty people – the leaders of that union.

    • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

      California is near the bottom and heavily unionized. Uneducated people vote less. We would have raised minimum wage from 7.25 to 10.10, eliminating poverty for tens of millions of Americans, if poor people would have been taught civic obligations. We hear that we can't expect it because they don't have enough money, but India has better voting percentages. Our teachers fail to motivate kids to vote. If kids get a … Read More

      California is near the bottom and heavily unionized. Uneducated people vote less. We would have raised minimum wage from 7.25 to 10.10, eliminating poverty for tens of millions of Americans, if poor people would have been taught civic obligations. We hear that we can’t expect it because they don’t have enough money, but India has better voting percentages. Our teachers fail to motivate kids to vote. If kids get a mediocre teacher for history, they end up being too lazy to vote which causes millions of families to live on less. We always hear of poverty. 14,500 to 20,200 would cover a lot of vegetables, school supplies, etc. But we couldn’t get people to the polls. Teachers cause a lot of this. If they were better, we’d have higher minimum wage.

  8. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Union Discipline and Employee Rights By Rossie D. Alston, Jr. and Glenn M. Taubman© Supreme Court Interpretations and Purported "Union Shop" Requirements The language of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") seems to permit unions to negotiate contracts requiring "membership" in the union as a condition of employment.(14) However, in NLRB v. General Motors Corp.,(15) the United States Supreme Court examined the nature of this purported "membership" requirement, and held that: [T]he burdens of membership upon which employment may … Read More

    Union Discipline and Employee Rights

    By Rossie D. Alston, Jr. and Glenn M. Taubman©

    Supreme Court Interpretations and Purported “Union Shop” Requirements

    The language of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) seems to permit unions to negotiate contracts requiring “membership” in the union as a condition of employment.(14) However, in NLRB v. General Motors Corp.,(15)
    the United States Supreme Court examined the nature of this purported “membership” requirement, and held that:

    [T]he burdens of membership upon which employment may be conditioned are expressly limited to the payment of initiation fees and monthly dues. It is permissible to condition employment upon membership, but membership, insofar as it has significance to employment rights, may in turn be conditioned only upon payment of fees and dues. ‘Membership’ as a condition of employment is whittled down to its financial core.”(16)

    Thus, an employee cannot be required to sign a membership card or to take an oath of membership. Indeed, the so-called “union shop” — requiring formal membership in the union — ceased to exist as a matter of law after General Motors.

    Since General Motors, the Supreme Court has further “whittled down” employees’ obligations, so that they need not even pay full union dues. Today, the most that can be required of any employee is the payment of that portion of dues that covers the union’s costs of collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment (the “financial core fee”), not the costs of the union’s political, ideological and non-representational activities.(17) It is now well-established law that an employee may satisfy any union security requirement (even those misleadingly phrased as a “membership” requirement) simply by paying a reduced portion of the dues (the “financial core fee”), and cannot be discharged for refusing to join the union.(18) Most importantly, the union has no power to discipline an individual employee who chooses the nonmember “financial core” or “agency fee” status.(19) Since a union can discipline only those employees who are voluntary members, a “financial core payor” or “agency fee payor” permanently shields himself from fines and other forms of union discipline that can be imposed on members who violate union rules.

Template last modified: