January 8, 2016


The End of Union Politicking? : The Supreme Court could help taxpayers (and the labor movement) by dealing a blow to public sector unions. (Peter Roff, Jan. 8, 2016, US News)

The Supreme Court has already guaranteed in the case of Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education that public sector employees are protected by the First Amendment from being forced to join a union. However, because many state governments only recognize labor unions as the collective bargaining agents for state employees, people like Friedrichs end up caught in the middle of what should be an obvious conflict in constitutional rights.

As the Mackinac Center, a Michigan-based think tank, argues in a white paper on the case, the argument put forward by the plaintiffs is that "collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently political, and government unions devote more of their resources to their political agenda that just the small portion of dues which goes to directly support political candidates or causes."

The Center for Individual Rights explains the problem this way: "Whether the union is negotiating for specific class sizes or pressing a local government to spend tax dollars on teacher pensions rather than on building parks, the union's negotiating positions embody political choices that are often controversial." Or, to put it another way, everything the public sector unions do is inherently political because the entity with whom they must negotiate is the government.

If the court agrees, and there is every indication it may, a victory by Friedrichs and the Center for Individual Rights could mean the end of collective bargaining in the public square.

Posted by at January 8, 2016 5:26 PM