California Educators Heading to U.S. Supreme Court for Historic Case

MEDIA ADVISORY for January 11, 2016

Contact: Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lacy Barnes to speak in advance of “Friedrichs” hearing Monday, January 11This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

On Monday, Fresno community college instructor Lacy Barnes will be heading to Washington, D.C. to speak on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court before oral arguments begin in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, an historic labor case that threatens workers’ rights to join with colleagues in unions and advocate for the communities they serve.

Barnes started an online petition a few weeks ago protesting the underlying premises of this anti-union suit. It quickly gathered more than 100,000 signatures.

“As an educator and a union member, I know what’s at stake here,” says Barnes. “When I began teaching in 1992, it never even crossed my mind not to join a union, and it’s a decision I’ve never regretted. We’ve all seen the research showing that strong unions benefit the middle class. Being a union member has allowed me to speak in one voice with my colleagues for things that matter and that contribute directly to student success, such as smaller class sizes, professional development, office hours for part-time faculty, and equitable wages and benefits that help sustain families.”

Barnes is an active leader of the State Center Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1533, an affiliate of the California Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers. She will be representing the Central Valley at Monday's event. Other CFT representatives will include Berkeley classified employee Paula Phillips, part-time Cabrillo Community College instructor John Govsky, San Francisco teacher Lita Blanc, and CFT Secretary Treasurer Jeff Freitas of Sacramento. They will join protestors from Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

The Friedrichs case asks the Court to decide whether public sector unions may continue to charge non-members a fee equal to the cost of representing them to their employer. Since no one is required to join a union – though unions are required by law to represent everyone in the workplace – this “fair share” fee ensures that all employees contribute to the cost of securing the benefits, security, and job protections the union negotiates and everyone enjoys.

An adverse ruling could jeopardize existing collective bargaining laws in California and 16 other states that give teachers, state employees, nurses, firefighters, and other workers the right to negotiate with employers over wages, benefits, working conditions, and to advocate for high-quality education and services.

The suit is backed by the Center for Individual Rights, a right wing advocacy group funded by the Koch Brothers and supported by a who’s who of wealthy conservative anti-union forces.

The CFT’s national union – the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) - also filed an amicus brief, making a powerful argument about how unions fight for much more than our members’ best interests. AFT President Randi Weingarten told the Court:

“Working people are struggling to get ahead, and this case will make it worse, especially for our children. When educators come together in a union, they are able to advocate not just for better pay and benefits but for a higher-quality public education for their students. Through their union, educators receive professional development to help them implement reform initiatives vital to helping all students succeed in this 21st-century economy. Through their union, educators participate on health and safety committees to raise concerns—like leaky roofs or asbestos—and devise plans to keep their students healthy. If the court overturns 40 years of precedent, it will be much harder for unions to do this vital work. When working people can speak up together, our children are better off.”

The speaking program outside the court will begin Monday, January 11 at 9:30am ET, in advance of oral argument which is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. ET.

For additional information or to arrange interviews with CFT members in advance, please contact Fred Glass (info above).

To learn more about the case, please visit AmericaWorksTogether.us.

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The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 education employees in public and private schools, from Head Start through the University of California. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

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