The death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February has raised questions about the status of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. To understand the import of Scalia's passing requires a closer look at the composition of the Supreme Court. The remaining eight members include Justice Ginsburg (appointed by Democrat Bill Clinton) who will turn 83 next month and Justice Kennedy (appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan) who will reach the age of 80 in July.
Assuming no new vacancies are created by retirement or death before June (the anticipated date of the decision), and the Senate fails to approve President Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, court watchers believe there could be a 4-to-4 vote on Friedrichs. It is also possible that the Supreme Court can hold the Friedrichs case until the vacancy is filled. A tie vote, however, will cause the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to remain the final ruling on the matter, thereby retaining the Supreme Court’s precedent in its 1977 ruling for Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. That decision held that fees paid for collective bargaining, contract administration and grievances by non-member public sector employees to be valid.
Opponents of unionism in America will continue to use all branches of government to achieve their goals; therefore, the Public Services Division will continue to move forward with its national campaign to engage all members and convert to full membership status those paying only a “fair share” fee.
The best protection against plans to eliminate labor is to activate an army of involved union members who understand that rights established by law and the legal significance of collective bargaining agreements covering wages, benefits and working conditions, are essential to a better tomorrow.
All locals which have members employed by a state, county, city or town should be sure to contact the Public Services Division and participate in its national campaign.
The Division can be reached at (202) 624-6800 or [email protected].