Nine current and former Republican members of the Illinois General Assembly have signed on to an amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, which the Court is expected to hear in early 2016.
The brief asks the Court not to prohibit states from permitting the use of fair share fees. The Court first upheld such fees in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education in 1977 and has repeatedly reaffirmed the validity of such fees unanimously, including in an opinion just six years ago. The signees of the brief encourage the Court to reaffirm Abood and leave “the complicated calculus involved in determining how to structure public sector labor relations” to the state and local leaders “best positioned” to decide such matters.
A total of 47 Republican legislators from across the nation signed on to the brief, including eight current members of the Illinois General Assembly:
· Sen. Sam McCann
· Rep. Terri Bryant
· Rep. Adam Brown
· Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer
· Rep. Norine Hammond
· Rep. Dwight Kay
· Rep. Bill Mitchell
· Rep. Raymond Poe (Poe has since resigned to become Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture)
In addition, the brief was supported by former Illinois State Rep. Angelo “Skip” Saviano.
Four Illinois school districts; Collinsville Community Unit School District 10; Decatur Public School District 61; Marquardt School District 15; Round Lake Area School District, also are participating as amici in a separate brief with school districts in California, Connecticut, Maryland and Minnesota.
The districts signing on to that brief cite firsthand experience bargaining and collaborating with unions and the reason they have concluded that “…stable unions are indispensable partners in improving the quality of public education.”
The districts state that “…state and local governments have compelling interests in preserving their ability to adopt agency fee arrangements, whether as a matter of state law or as a subject of bargaining. [Our] experiences show that agency fee arrangements are also essential to effective collective bargaining, close working relationships, and innovative labor-management collaboration—all of which improve public education.”
In total, hundreds of amici—representing all levels of government, public officials, civil rights organizations, academic experts, and others— filed 24 briefs. In general, the briefs, like the one filed by more than 70 national civil rights organizations, urge the Court to uphold the fair share fees that support strong collective bargaining, rather than “undermine” the strong bargaining relationships that have provided “a critical path to the middle class for generations of working people.
“The number and vast range of groups who have spoken up by filing amici briefs with the Court illustrate how important this case is and what’s at stake for America’s working families,” said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. “States as different as Alaska and New York, with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, see how this case harms not just public workers but also the communities that depend on the services they provide.
States including Alaska, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia, joined by the District of Columbia have weighed in to voice their common view that Abood rightly recognized “that States have a significant and valid interest in being able to employ the models of collective bargaining that have proved successful for achieving labor peace and avoiding labor strikes,” and for improving the efficiency and quality of public services.
Thousands of contracts that include such fees currently cover millions of public employees.
Further information is contained in the NEA news release on the court filings.