In Major Anti-Labor Case, Union-busters No Longer Even Pretend Unions Don’t Benefit Workers

Source: Moshe Z. Marvit, In These Times, Working In These Times blog, April 29, 2015

…To object and become a non-member, Bain would simply have to write to her union during an open window and state her desire to quit the union. However, if she did so, she would not receive liability insurance, which is a benefit of union membership, or have the right to vote in union elections. Therefore, with the backing of education reformer and former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee’s anti-teachers union group StudentsFirst, Bain and several other teachers have filed a federal lawsuit against the California Teachers Association, the National Education Association, the California Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, United Teachers Los Angeles, United Teachers of Richmond and various school superintendents. Through that suit, Bain seeks to accrue all the benefits of union membership while paying a reduced dues rate and becoming a non-member. Bain v. California Teachers Association is in some ways little more than a rehash of previous attacks on labor, but it repackages those attacks’ allegations with a pro-union façade. In doing so, this case represents the high-water mark of perverting the First Amendment as a tool against labor…. At issue in Bain is not that teachers may choose to opt out of membership with their union and pay a reduced dues rate while still receiving all the benefits of the contract. Those fair share fee cases, such as the seminal Beck v. Communication Workers of America, focus on the process of opting out of membership and the types of fees that would be refundable. At issue are those teachers who choose not to be members of the union and do not receive the members’ benefits from the union, such as being able to vote in union elections and access to any union-sponsored insurance programs. Bain and other teachers in the suit argue that it is unfair and unconstitutional for them to be denied any benefits of membership as a result of their decision to opt out of membership and pay a reduced amount in union dues. They want to be able to both opt out of membership in the union and a significant portion of union dues, but to still be able to vote for union officers and direct the union (which they’ve chosen not to join). In other words, they want the full benefits of a union without having to pay for them. And they are asking the federal courts to intercede and say that the First Amendment guarantees them that right….