Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Assn., which will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, could significantly rebalance state and local political power for the first time since the rise of public sector unions in the 1960s and 1970s.
The case concerns laws in California and 22 other states that permit public sector unions to force everyone covered by their contract to contribute money to the union — even if an individual worker wants no part of it. For decades, such statutes have increased the membership rolls and inflated the coffers of unions for teachers and other government workers, turning them into political powerhouses and the backbone of the Democratic Party. All that could change if the court rules for the plaintiffs, a group of nine teachers led by Rebecca Friedrichs, who has taught elementary school for 26 years, most recently in Anaheim.
Public sector unions became political powerhouses by essentially co-opting the cash, and therefore the voice, of people who opposed their views. Public employees certainly have benefited from that influence, but it has made government more expensive for taxpayers and less efficient for everyone else. The Supreme Court has an opportunity to restore some balance.