Last month, I wrote about optimism among school choice advocates after the recent Supreme Court decision nixing mandatory “agency fees” for public sector workers who don’t belong to local unions. Analysts expect teachers unions to lose members—and funds—hampering their ability to lobby against school reform measures. But activists in California aren’t satisfied with the Janus v. AFSCME ruling and hope to push unions even further out of the political arena with another legal challenge.
In 2015, attorney Josh Lipshutz filed suit on behalf of four teachers who wanted to keep their union membership but didn’t want their dues used to support political causes with which they disagreed. A federal appeals court threw out the case on technical grounds in May, but Lipshutz has vowed to try again with a different set of plaintiffs.
If they don’t want to participate in the union’s political activities, teachers can opt out of membership, and after the Janus ruling can’t be forced to pay fees to cover collective bargaining efforts. But membership does come with some benefits, including the ability to negotiate the terms of their contract, free representation during employment disputes, and better pay during maternity leave. Teachers shouldn’t have to give up those benefits just to keep from participating in political activities, Lipshutz argues. —L.J.