Education Opinion

Supreme Court Tie Vote Doesn’t Settle Union Dues Issue

By Walt Gardner — March 30, 2016 1 min read
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The U.S. Supreme Court’s split vote in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assocation is hailed as a victory for teachers’ unions (“Victory for Unions as Supreme Court, Scalia Gone, Ties 4-4,” The New York Times, Mar. 30). But in truth it only postpones a decision that will allow teachers to benefit from collective bargaining without paying for it.

If I read the anti-union sentiment of the country correctly, the issue will resurface, with an entirely different decision by the high court. That’s because unions are cast as villains for all the ills afflicting public schools. It makes no difference that states with strong teachers’ unions consistently have better outcomes than states with weak teachers’ unions. I realize that correlation is not causation, but the evidence should not be dismissed out of hand.

I still do not understand why the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education is challenged. It made the correct distinction between two kinds of mandatory payments: those used for the union’s political activities, which violated the First Amendment, and those used for the union’s collective bargaining, which were constitutional. Once again, I submit that teachers who do not believe in teachers’ unions should willingly return any raises they receive as a result of collective bargaining. Of course they won’t because they are freeloaders. In states that recognize a duty to bargain but prohibit fair share fees, 34 percenmt of teachers fall into that category.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.