States Back Working People in Friedrichs Case

by Michael Byrne  |  November 16, 2015

States Back Working People in Friedrichs Case

The top attorneys for 20 states and the District of Columbia have filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief supporting working people in Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association, a case pushed to the Supreme Court by corporate CEOs and special interests intent on destroying unions.

Saying that “unions go hand-in-hand with a strong middle class,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the pro-worker coalition at a Sunday press conference in New York City, where he was joined by Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.

“The Supreme Court should follow settled precedent and allow states like New York to manage our own labor relations and achieve labor peace and government efficiency and to continue our long tradition of support for workers,” Schneiderman said.

“There is nothing remotely fair about dismantling fair-share arrangements in public-sector union contracts,” Jepsen said. “Strong public-sector unions are and should remain important partners in ensuring effective government for citizens.”

Also weighing in was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also filed an amicus brief and vowed to stand with unions “and the working- and middle-class families that unions protect. … Unions have been key in the fight against inequality, and their role remains vital today when workers’ rights are increasingly under attack.”

A joint AFSCME and AFL-CIO brief filed Nov. 13 strongly defends the precedent in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a unanimous 1977 Supreme Court ruling that public-sector unions can collect fair-share fees to support their work in representing workers who choose not to join the union.

“So long as the fee payer is given a reasonable opportunity to express dissent and refrain from subsidizing the non-chargeable activity, the First Amendment is satisfied,” according to court precedents, attorneys for AFSCME and the federation argued.

AFSCME also is part of a growing coalition of labor, civil rights and community organizations working to educate the public about the case. Find out more at



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