On February 6, The Center for Individual Rights filed a lawsuit against the state of California and the California Teachers Association on behalf of eight California public school teachers and the Association of American Educators. The teachers are challenging California’s “agency shop” law, which violates the First Amendment by forcing them to pay annual fees to the union – even if they are not a member.
In 2016, CIR represented Rebecca Friedrichs and other teachers in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association – a case raising the same issue. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs on January 11, 2016. However, after the untimely death of Justice Scalia the Court issued an equally divided, non-binding opinion.
Yohn v. CTA picks up where Friedrichs left off.
The eight teacher plaintiffs in Yohn v. CTA have political and moral objections to many of the policies on which unions spend their money. And they are not alone. A poll conducted by Education Next and the Harvard Kennedy School revealed that many teachers disagree with their union on some or all of the issues that unions typically negotiate on: 34% disagree with their union over tenure. 41% disagree with their union over charter schools. Finally, 50% of public school teachers believe that compelled union dues are wrong and unconstitutional.
These are issues on which people – including teachers – have diverse opinions and reasonably disagree. The teachers in this case are asking the courts to respect their First Amendment right to choose – without fear or coercion – whether or not to join or fund a union.