Free Riders or Free Speech? Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association and Compulsory Union Fees in the Public Sector

Cincinnati Lawyers Chapter

Speaker: 

  • William L. Messenger, Staff Attorney, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Counsel for Petitioners in Harris v. Quinn

Speaker: 

  • William L. Messenger, Staff Attorney, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Counsel for Petitioners in Harris v. Quinn

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915. In 1977, the Supreme Court held in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977) that public employees may be compelled to financially support union collective bargaining with government, but not union political activities. In 2014, the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn criticized Abood’s reasoning but did not overrule Abood, which it found to be inapplicable in that case. Now, in Friedrichs, the Supreme Court is revisiting the issue it touched on but did not decide in Abood: can public school teachers be required to pay compulsory union fees as a condition of their employment, or does such a requirement violate the First Amendment? The petitioners argue that compulsory union dues violate the right to free speech. The California Teachers Association argues that public sector bargaining is similar to private sector collective bargaining and that if fees are not compulsory certain teachers will become “free riders.”

William L. Messenger, who presented the oral argument for the petitioners in Harris v. Quinn, and who is Staff Counsel with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, will discuss the Friedrichs case and its possible implications. (We are attempting to secure another speaker who will take the public sector unions’ position so that the Friedrichs case will be analyzed in the context of a debate.)

Please RSVP by Tuesday, February 23 at noon to Matthew R. Byrne at matthew.byrne@jacksonlewis.com.  Pay at the door or in advance by cash or check (payable to “The Federalist Society”).  We look forward to seeing you at the event. 

The cost of lunch and attendance is $15.00.  Members and non-members alike are always welcome.