Teaching Profession

Union Fees’ Use Again at Issue

By Jessica L. Tonn — February 27, 2007 1 min read

Is the Washington state legislature trying to enact a law that would insulate its teachers’ union friends if a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision goes against them? Or is it merely trying to clarify existing law?

Depends on whom you ask.

Five nonunion teachers and the state department of education sued the union in 2000, for allegedly violating the state law that requires nonunion members to opt in before the Washington Education Association can use their fees for political activities. The case, which addresses whether the “opt-in” statute violates the union’s First Amendment rights, was argued before the high court last month. (“Court Hears Case on Use of Fees by Teachers’ Union,” Jan. 17, 2007.)

Supporters of a proposed bill, including the WEA, argue that the legislation is meant to illustrate how unions already are allowed to fund political activities.

The current law prohibits unions from using a nonunion employee’s “agency shop” fees—which the state allows the 80,000-member teachers’ union to deduct from all public education employees’ paychecks to support activities, such as collective bargaining, from which they benefit—for political campaigns and activism “unless affirmatively authorized by the individual.”

The proposed bill would amend that law to say that a union is not using nonmember money for political purposes “if it has sufficient revenues from sources other than agency shop fees in its general treasury to fund such contributions or expenditures.”

But the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia, Wash.-based think tank that has taken the WEA to court in the past, characterizes the measure as an “accounting gimmick” meant to sidestep a high court ruling, expected later this term.

The proposed changes have no bearing on the Supreme Court case, the bill’s authors maintain.

“This addition to the existing statute in no way changes, or even makes more palatable to the [high court], the First Amendment issue being argued before them,” Joe McDermott, the bill’s sponsor, told colleagues during a committee hearing on the legislation last week.

Assistant State Attorney General D. Thomas Wendel told lawmakers at the hearing that although the proposed amendment wouldn’t directly affect the pending legal challenge, “whether it would diminish the high court’s interest in deciding this [case] is another question.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 28, 2007 edition of Education Week

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

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
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
Speech Therapist - Long Term Sub
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Teaching Profession After a Stillbirth, This Teacher Was Denied Paid Leave for Recovery. Here's Her Story
A District of Columbia teacher delivered a stillborn baby and was denied paid maternity leave. Her story, told here, is not uncommon.
6 min read
Illustration of a woman.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion What Your Students Will Remember About You
The best teachers care about students unconditionally but, at the same time, ask them to do things they can’t yet do.
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty
Teaching Profession High Risk for COVID-19 and Forced Back to Class: One Teacher's Story
One theater teacher in Austin has a serious heart condition and cancer, but was denied the ability to work remotely. Here is her story.
9 min read
Austin High School musical theater teacher and instructional coach Annie Dragoo has three underlying health conditions noted by the CDC as being high-risk for coronavirus complications, but was denied a waiver to continue working from home in 2021.
Austin High School musical theater teacher and instructional coach Annie Dragoo has three underlying health conditions noted by the CDC as being high-risk for coronavirus complications, but was denied a waiver to continue working from home in 2021.
Julia Robinson for Education Week
Teaching Profession Photos What Education Looked Like in 2020
A visual recap of K-12 education in 2020 across the United States.
1 min read
On Sept. 24, 2020, distance learners are seen on a laptop held by teacher Kristen Giuliano who assists student Jane Wood, 11, in a seventh-grade social studies class at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn. Many schools around the state have closed temporarily during the school year because of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19. Within the first week of November 2020, nearly 700 students and more than 300 school staff around Connecticut tested positive, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Teacher Kristen Giuliano assists Jane Wood, 11, during a 7th grade social studies class in September at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Conn., while other students join the class remotely from home.
Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP