Tags: High | Court | Delivers | Win | for | Teachers

High Court Delivers Win for Teachers

Thursday, 14 June 2007 12:00 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Pacific Legal Foundation on Thursday applauded a unanimous Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of Washington state teachers not to have their earnings taken from them by union officials without their consent and spent on political campaigns they don't agree with. The Court's ruling, in the consolidated cases of Washington v. Washington Education Association and Davenport v. WEA, upheld a Washington law requiring public employee unions to obtain consent from nonmembers before spending money taken from their paychecks on political campaigns.

"No other industry in the country has the power to simply force people to hand over their money," said PLF attorney Timothy Sandefur, who authored PLF's friend of the court brief in the case. "Unions, however, routinely exploit workers not only by taking the money of those who choose not to join a union, but by spending this money to support candidates or measures that the workers themselves often don't support. It's a shameful abuse of power."

The Washington Supreme Court had declared the Washington law a violation of the First Amendment rights of the teachers' union. The Supreme Court today reversed that holding, declaring that states are free to protect workers from abusive union practices.

"The Washington law, enacted by voters, was perfectly sensible," said PLF's Sandefur. In fact, in every other area of the law – in criminal law, in eminent domain, in everything – the government is required to at least give you a hearing before taking your money. Even if they want to take away your welfare payments, they have to give you a hearing first. But here, unions had been given the power to take money from workers first, and only give it back after the worker goes through a long and difficult process. That wasn't fair, and the voters of Washington ended that by requiring the unions to ask first. Voters have the right to make that decision."

The Supreme Court declared that the Washington law was constitutional because unions have no constitutional right to take money from nonmembers. The Washington law, said the Justices, "is not fairly described as a restriction on how the union can spend ‘its' money; it is a condition placed upon the union's extraordinary state entitlement to acquire and spend other people's money."

Although Supreme Court's Washington legislature cut back severely on the protections afforded by its state law, the decision may have important implications in Washington and elsewhere. "This decision means that if other states enact laws to protect workers from union exploitation, those laws will likely be upheld," said Sandefur.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Pacific Legal Foundation on Thursday applauded a unanimous Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of Washington state teachers not to have their earnings taken from them by union officials without their consent and spent on political campaigns...
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2007-00-14
Thursday, 14 June 2007 12:00 AM
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