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America’s working families are working more hours than ever before, yet it’s a struggle for them to make ends meet, let alone build for the future.
It was America’s talented workforce that spurred the country’s economic recovery, yet our economic policies cater to corporate CEOs and wealthy special interests—who have been able to game the system and tip the rules in their favor.
Now, the wealthy special interests and corporate elites are trying to rob working people of their right to form unions—to assemble and speak up as a group to negotiate vital job protections for their families. A court case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, threatens to destroy public sector unions by challenging their ability to collect fees from anyone who enjoys the benefits and protections that a union provides.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Friedrichs, which basically says that people who benefit from union-negotiated protections and benefits don’t have to pay their fair share for those protections if they choose not to. However, unions are required by law to provide protections for everyone in the workplace; the union must represent everyone, whether an employee is a union member or not.
Since all public employees enjoy the benefits and protections provided by the union, it is only fair that all employees contribute to the cost of securing those gains. It is illegal to force someone to join a union. Nonunion members, known as “fee payers” in New York, instead pay agency fees for their fair share of union representation.
This would change if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Friedrichs, which is designed to destroy the financial security of unions. The intent is to bankrupt unions by blocking their ability to collect agency fees, a major revenue source. How? Well, the union-busting billionaires who brought the case claim that it's unconstitutional for unions to collect fees from fee payers.
That is not the case.
Unions CANNOT use fees for political activities. It is illegal for unions to do that. Instead, unions collect voluntary donations for political action funds, like NYSUT’s VOTE-COPE nonpartisan fund. This is how the law protects the free speech and Constitutional rights of those who decide not to join the union for political and other reasons.
What you will find here
On this page you will find links to a number of resources to help you better understand the Friedrichs case and why it is such a threat to public unions nationwide. The AFT, AFSCME and the California Teachers Association have excellent resources available. There’s also a list of news stories compiled by UUP about Friedrichs and how SUNY employees in UUP's bargaining unit can join UUP.
For more information, please contact UUP at 1-800-342-4206.
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