I wonder if Harlan Elrich, one of the plaintiffs inFriedrichs v. California Teachers Association, was the kind of kid who took his bat and ball and went home if he didn’t get his way on the sandlot.
He evidently doesn’t believe in the democratic process or in majority rule.
Elrich and nine other teachers are suing the CTA to get out of paying the union their fair share to represent them. The Supreme Court heard arguments in the suit Monday.
A victory for Elrich and his co-plaintiffs could end up putting every public sector union in the country under “right to work,” meaning workers would be able to enjoy union-won wages, work hours and benefits without paying a dime to support the union. That's called freeloading.
Federal labor law requires that in a workplace with a union, the union has to represent everybody who is not a supervisory or management employee. Unions say workers who don’t want to join the union should at least compensate the union for representing them in the collective bargaining process.
In any event, Elrich blasted the CPA in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece. He disagrees with many things the union bargains for. "That the union would presume to push, allegedly on my behalf, for higher salaries at the expense of smaller class sizes and avoiding teacher layoffs is preposterous," he wrote.
Most teachers obviously disagree with Elrich. What the CTA seeks at the bargaining table is based on majority rule via the democratic process. The same is true of all unions.
When it's contract time, union negotiating committees don't sit down at the table with management without input from the membership. Committee members are elected by the membership or they are appointed by officers the membership elects.
The membership has to ratify a contract before it takes effect.
Too, in unions, members elect officers from stewards to international presidents. They also vote on what candidates to endorse and give money to.
Also under federal labor law, union members cannot be forced to contribute to their union's purely political activities. But Elrich and his co-plaintiffs claim everything the CTA does--even collective bargaining--is political. Therefore, paying an agency fee to the union violates their First Amendment right to free expression, they say.
Anyway, I suspect Elrich and the other plaintiffs want people to think they’re just a little group of teachers fighting on their own for their “rights” against the CTA "union bosses" – a David v Goliath matchup.
While the 10 teachers decry the CTA for being inherently “political,” they are helping further the overtly political agenda of a big-time, big-bucks union-busting outfit.
Far from going it alone, the plaintiffs have some heavy artillery on their side. The fiercely anti-union Center for Individual Rights, an organization with links to the Koch brothers, is representing them for free.
Of course, while the 10 teachers decry the CTA for being inherently “political,” they are helping further the overtly political agenda of a big-time, big-bucks union-busting outfit.
Though I am retired, I still pack an American Federation of Teachers union card.
I like Bernie Sanders for president. The AFT endorsed Hillary Clinton but I’m not suing my union over it.
The endorsement resolution points out that “traditionally, the endorsement is decided in two phases: For the primaries, the AFT executive council, which iselected [italics mine] by the convention delegates to represent the full membership, makes endorsement recommendations. For the general election, our convention chooses our candidate.”
I don’t like what Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s newly-elected tea party Republican governor, is doing. I didn’t vote for him. Nor did I vote for two of Bevin’s Republican allies, the state representative and senator who represent my town.
But I accept the fact that I was in the minority on election day. A majority of my fellow citizens voted for Bevin last November and for the state lawmakers in November, 2014. The three Republicans won fair and square. As a result, I'm not suing Kentucky and I'm still paying my taxes.
Scoff at my comparison as "preposterous" if you will. But the same principle applies to Elrich and the other litigants.
Will I vote against Bevin and the state lawmakers the next time I get a chance? You bet.
Meanwhile, I'm sticking with the majority rule principle. If my candidates come up short on election day, so be it. If they lose, I'll keep paying my taxes and raise anew the old Brooklyn Dodger cry: “Wait ‘till next year!”