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Supreme Court Hears How Friedrichs v. CTA Threatens Fairness, Public Services, Middle Class

WASHINGTON - January 11, 2016 -

The U.S. Supreme Court today heard how Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association seeks to make it harder for educators to come together to bargain for smaller class sizes, safer schools, and better learning environments for all students. The plaintiffs seek to overturn common sense jurisprudence established in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education in 1977, which allows states and localities the freedom to choose whether all public employees should pay their fair share for the employment representation they receive.

“As a classroom teacher, I see every day how collective bargaining is benefiting my students,” said Reagan Duncan, a first grade teacher in Vista, Calif. who was in Washington, D.C. today. “Through my union, we have been able to bargain contracts that provide smaller class sizes which allows us to provide more one-on-one instruction time and individualized attention to ensure our students succeed.”

Witnessing the oral arguments first hand in the chambers was CTA President Eric Heins who describes the proceedings as intense, and a proud personal moment to be able to represent his more than 325,000 colleagues and members from California.

“The current fair share system is a good compromise and common sense solution, and that’s part of the argument we presented to the Supreme Court Justices today,” said CTA President Eric C. Heins. “This case is about our students, our public schools and our country’s economic future. Providing a quality public education for every student starts with educators having the ability to come together and make decisions for their students, as well as negotiating fair wages that attract the brightest minds into our profession. Undermining the collective bargaining process undermines the middle class.”

Under the current system, every employee has the freedom to join a union. However, unions are legally required to represent all workers. It’s not fair for some workers to pay more than their fair share for the same services. This case is attempting to undo nearly four decades of sound, common sense law that has provided stability in the workplace and allowed public employees to provide quality public services to their communities.

More than 24 briefs by hundreds of amici—representing all levels of government, public officials, civil rights organizations, academic experts, and others—were filed with the court in support of the respondents. Weighing in on the case have been 23 states and the District of Columbia, dozens of cities, nearly 50 Republican lawmakers, school districts and public hospitals in support of the value fair share fees provide in terms of the effective management of public services.

“We are worried about our students, our communities and our families,” said Maya Walker, a library media technician in Hayward, Calif. who also traveled to Washington, D.C. representing California’s educators. “If our union is weakened, it will be harder for us to stand together to ensure our students have critical programs and support like school libraries. It will be harder for us to fight for the things our students need—which impacts families and local communities.”

“Make no mistake about it, this case is an attempt to shift the balance away from workers and in the favor of corporate interests,” said Heins. “That’s apparent by the wealthy special interests funding the lawsuit. This case has nothing to do with what’s good for students or working families. It only hurts the middle class at a time when working Americans are finding it harder to get by. For our students and our future, we hope the Supreme Court upholds the current law.”

For more information about the case, including links to friend of the court briefs, columns by experts opposing the deceptive lawsuit, and other data, go to For more on national impact and background, see the America Works Together coalition site at

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Keep up with the conversation at #WorkTogether


The 325,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association.

California Teachers Association
1705 Murchison Drive
Burlingame, CA 94010

CTA Contacts: Claudia Briggs at 916-296-4087 or Mike Myslinski at 650-552-5324


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