AAUP senior labor adviser Michael Mauer and associate counsel Nancy Long attended today’s proceedings. For the past forty years, the Supreme Court has endorsed the legality of fair share, or agency fee, arrangements, whereby nonmembers are obligated to pay for the costs of the representation that the union provides to all. This is now being challenged on the basis that the First Amendment bars this practice, since it compels individuals to pay for “speech” (by the union) with which they may not agree. Mike and Nancy report that the tone and content of the oral argument strengthened the apprehension in the labor community that there could well be a majority to overturn longstanding jurisprudence in this area. It appears that this issue will likely be resolved decisively. There’s a chance, though, that the Supreme Court will just modify the present methods of collecting fair share payments, leaving the basic structure intact.
If you are interested in reading the transcript of today’s arguments, you can find it here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/14-915_e2p3.pdf.
The court will issue its decision by June at the latest. We can’t know what the court will decide, but regardless of the outcome, the time to organize is now. The best defense against an unfavorable outcome in this case is a strong union with high membership. When we build our membership, we achieve better results at the negotiating table, represent our members more effectively, stand up to our administrations and let them know that we are a force to be reckoned with, and show that we are ready to fight for unions and for the future of higher education.
We have been in touch with many of you directly, and AAUP chapters across the country have already begun organizing and building membership. If your chapter would like assistance with your organizing efforts, please contact Jamie Owen Daniel, director of organizing, at email@example.com.
You can see more information on the case and on the amicus brief filed by the AAUP here. http://www.aaup.org/brief/friedrichs-v-california-teachers-association-no-14-915-2015
Howard Bunsis, Chair
AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress
Rudy Fichtenbaum, President
The AAUP-CBC supports unionization as the most effective means for academic employees to protect shared governance and academic freedom, to uphold professional standards and values, and to promote higher education as an investment in our common future. Visit the AAUP-CBC website and Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.