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Unions file respondents’ brief in Supreme Court case that threatens working families

Friedrichs v. CTA seeks to undermine public-sector collective bargaining

WASHINGTON - November 06, 2015 -

The National Education Association and the California Teachers Association, together with a number of unions, today filed the union respondents’ brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case backed by corporate special interests who are pushing their own agenda by asking the Court to overrule the sound law of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

In their brief, the unions argue that the rule established by Abood is constitutional and a common-sense principle that supports the rights of workers to come together, speak up and get ahead. Where employees have chosen to elect a union to represent them, employers have a strong interest in ensuring that all employees contribute their fair share of the costs of that representation. Everyone who benefits from a negotiated contract should contribute to the costs of securing that contract.

“Everyone who works should be able to make ends meet, have a say about their futures, and have the right to negotiate together for better wages and benefits that can sustain their family,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Fair share fees allow Americans to have better public services, stronger public schools and more vibrant communities.”

Strong collective bargaining relationships support high-quality public schools and services. Maryland’s Montgomery County serves as an example where labor-management relations are strong and its public schools are leading the nation.

“By standing together with my fellow teachers, we have been able to address issues such as funding sources and classroom sizes,” said Ambereen Khan-Baker, an Advance Placement English teacher from Rockville, Md. “In Montgomery County, our union collaborates directly with the superintendent to ensure that cuts made in our system are far removed from the classroom. The superintendent, along with the three unions in our county, actually all sit at the table together to create a budget each year that tries to keep necessary cuts away from directly impacting students. This collective action benefits my students.”

The thumbprints of those behind Friedrichs are evident and unmistakable.

“This case is really about corporate interests who are attempting to tip the balance of power in their favor,” said CTA President Eric C. Heins. “Our economic rules unfairly favor corporate CEOs and the rich because they manipulate the rules in their favor. And now this case is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to turn back and unravel constitutional decisions that have helped working families for nearly 40 years.”

The case is being heard by the Supreme Court at a time when Americans are experiencing an economy that has swung sharply out of balance. If the court bans fair share, it will make it more difficult for teachers, firefighters and nurses to negotiate for wages, benefits and improved public services.

“There is so much more to my job than aiding a teacher,” said Marla Lipkin, a paraprofessional from Fairless Hills, Penn. “For those of us who are educators, having a union is even more important because when I speak up for what my students need, my voice is amplified even louder.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

Contact: Staci Maiers, NEA Communications
202-270-5333 cell,


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BRIEF: attorney general of CALIFORNIA

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