The California Teachers Association has poured more than $150 million into state politics in the past decade – most of it going to Democratic candidates and liberal ballot measures. That kind of spending makes the 325,000-member CTA one of the greatest political forces in state history.
But a lawsuit filed by a group of teachers threatens to turn off the CTA’s political funding spigot: the automatic deduction of dues from paychecks for political purposes.
The suit, Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, is on behalf of the Christian Educators Association International and 10 teachers who have quit the teachers union and disagree with the CTA’s politics. They seek to stop the CTA from automatically collecting union dues.
Forced to ‘opt out’
Currently, their only recourse is to opt out every year by applying for a rebate of the portion of their dues used for political purposes. The portion’s percentage is determined by the union.
That has led to an over-reach into the wallets of those nonmembers who do not want to contribute to political spending, according to the Supreme Court in a similar case last year, Knox vs. Serv. Emps. Int’l Union, Local 1000.
In what could be precursor of Friedrichs, the court ruled 7-2 in Knox in favor of a group of California teachers who wanted to opt out of a special dues hike to fight Propositions 75 and 76 on the 2005 ballot.
Proposition 75 would have required unions to receive employee consent before charging fees for political purposes. Proposition 76 would have limited state spending, and allowed the governor to reduce government-employee compensation in certain circumstances.
Both propositions lost after opponents spent $10 million, nearly half of it from the CTA.