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Supreme Court to Hear Controversial Case on Union Dues

July 14, 2015

The Supreme Court will soon take up a controversial case that could have a profound impact on the rights of members of public service unions, including Local 888. In the session that begins next fall, the justices will hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that centers on the constitutionality of so-called “agency fees,” which require non-members to pay fees related to union bargaining and member representation efforts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASays Local 888 President Mark DelloRusso, “No matter what any court decides, I’m confident that the hardworking members of Local 888 will want to continue to improve life for themselves and their families. By organizing in our workplaces and at the ballot box, Local 888 will remain a powerful force for the good jobs and quality services that our communities need.”

In this FAQ, we look at what’s at stake in the case—and who is behind it. Got questions of your own? Send them to

What is the Friedrichs Supreme Court case about? Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is a Supreme Court case aimed at making it harder for working people to improve their lives by sticking together and pooling resources. Funded by billionaire extremists, it is the latest in a long line of lawsuits and laws pushed by big corporations seeking to limit the power of teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses and other public service workers to achieve good jobs and better services for themselves and all Americans. Their strategy to limit working class power is to eliminate the fee that non-union members pay toward covering the costs of bargaining contracts that improve pay, benefits and other working conditions. These fees, which the Supreme Court has upheld for decades, mean that everyone covered by a contract contributes to the costs of negotiating those benefits

Why should someone be compelled to pay a fee that the union then turns around and uses to support political causes that worker opposes? The truth is no one has to be involved in the union’s political work or pay for it. That’s the law already. People pay only for covering the costs of bargaining contracts that improve our pay, benefits and other working conditions.

And that’s just common sense. Everyone has the freedom to choose whether or not they want to contribute to support advocacy around issues that impact their lives outside of the contract--and there’s nothing more democratic than that.

How does the Friedrichs case relate to Harris v. Quinn? The Harris v. Quinn decision in June 2014 made it harder for home care workers to join together but the court declined to eliminate the commonsense fees that require public employees covered by a contract to contribute to the costs of those benefits. Now the billionaire-funded lawyers are trying once again to weaken the power of working people to improve their lives and their communities by bringing the Friedrichs case to the Supreme Court.

What’s the timeline? The Supreme Court will hear the case and announce its decision during the 2015-16 term, which runs from October 2015 through June 2016.

For more resources about Friedrich v. California Teachers Association, visit