Law & Courts

Latest Round in Utah Battle Goes to Unions

By Mark Walsh — January 22, 2008 1 min read

A political boxing match in Utah between state legislators and anti-union groups, on one hand, and the state teachers’ union and other public-employee unions, on the other, has reached the end of another round, and the unions won.

A federal appeals court on Jan. 10 struck down a Utah law that bars school districts and other local government agencies from withholding voluntary political contributions from the paychecks of their employees.

“By banning a contribution method preferred by many union members, the [Voluntary Contributions Act] increases the difficulty of contributing to labor union political funds” and thus unconstitutionally “burdens political speech,” said a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver.

See Also

For more stories on this topic see Law and Courts.

When the measure was passed in 2001, officials of the Utah Education Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, said it was retribution for a statewide teachers’ strike in the fall of 2000. (“Utah Eyes Ban on Payroll Deductions For Political Giving,” Feb. 7, 2001.)

The union also believes the law was meant to shrink its political war chest.

The law “substantially reduced the UEA’s political action contributions,” said Michael McCoy, the general counsel of the state teachers’ union. “We’re still recovering from that.”

The state was joined in its defense of the law by several state and national groups that oppose unions on such issues as payroll deductions for dues and political action funds, including the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, based in Springfield, Va.

Stefan H. Gleason, a vice president of National Right to Work, said government agencies “should not act as bag men for the unions.”

Still, while he believes the court ruling was incorrect, he argued that Utah’s law “did not meaningfully cut into the unions’ coercive power.”

Meanwhile, the Utah attorney general’s office is deciding whether to appeal the ruling by the 10th Circuit court.

A similar Idaho law struck down in October by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, is the subject of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the January 23, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Districts Are Centering Relationships and Systemic SEL for Back to School 21-22
As educators and leaders consider how SEL fits into their reopening and back-to-school plans, it must go beyond an SEL curriculum. SEL is part of who we are as educators and students, as well as
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
The Fall K-3 Classroom: What the data imply about composition, challenges and opportunities
The data tracking learning loss among the nation’s schoolchildren confirms that things are bad and getting worse. The data also tells another story — one with serious implications for the hoped for learning recovery initiatives
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Student Well-Being Online Summit Student Mental Health
Attend this summit to learn what the data tells us about student mental health, what schools can do, and best practices to support students.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Decades-Old Desegregation Case Drawing to a Close in Tucson, Ariz.
After more than 40 years, the Tucson Unified School District is being released from court oversight for its decades-old desegregation case.
Danyelle Khmara, The Arizona Daily Star
5 min read
Image shows a courtroom and gavel.
imaginima/E+
Law & Courts How a Cheerleader's Snapchat Profanity Could Shape the Limits of Students' Free Speech
Brandi Levy's social media post is the basis for a case before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether schools may punish off-campus speech.
9 min read
Image of Brandi Levy.
Brandi Levy, now an 18-year-old college freshman, was a cheerleader at Mahanoy Area High School in Pennsylvania when she made profane comments on Snapchat that are now at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court case on student speech rights.
Danna Singer/Provided by the American Civil Liberties Union
Law & Courts Student School Board Members Flex Their Civic Muscle in Supreme Court Free-Speech Case
Current and former student school board members add their growing voices to a potentially precedent-setting U.S. Supreme Court case.
7 min read
Image of the Supreme Court.
iStock/Getty
Law & Courts Justice Department Memo Could Stoke State-Federal Fights Over Transgender Students' Rights
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, a Justice Department memo says.
3 min read
Stephanie Marty demonstrates against a proposed ban on transgender girls and women from female sports leagues outside the South Dakota governor's mansion in Pierre, S.D. on March 11, 2021.
Stephanie Marty demonstrates against a proposed ban on allowing transgender girls and women to play in female sports leagues outside the South Dakota governor's mansion in Pierre, S.D.
Stephen Groves/AP