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ERIC Number: EJ1115565
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0748-8475
A Reflection on Educating College Students about the Value of Public-Sector Unions
Mooney, Christine; Volchok, Edward
Thought & Action, v32 n1 p121-134 Sum 2016
This year, labor unions got a reprieve: The Supreme Court deadlocked in a much-anticipated case that could have turned almost every state into Wisconsin, where partisan interests have crippled union power. The case, "Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association," addressed a previous case, "Abood v. Detroit Board of Education," which held that public-sector unions, such as teacher or police unions, can require non-members to pay fair share or "agency" fees to cover the costs of bargaining contracts that benefit all workers. The stakes were high: If the court had overruled "Abood," millions of public-sector employees could have opted not to pay fees to unions, and thousands of union contracts would have been affected. The Supreme Court heard the "Friedrichs" case on January 11, 2016. A month later, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died. On March 29, the court issued a 4-4 decision that leaves "Abood" unchanged, and unions still able to charge agency fees. But many other legal challenges to fair-share or agency fees remain in the lower courts. While the court's decision may leave federal law unchanged for now, it does not affect the battles labor faces, especially those in state legislatures. Twenty-six states already have passed so-called "right to work" legislation, which outlaws agency fees, and several more states have pending legislation. Dramatic drops in union membership, paired with the growing threat of "right to work legislation," raise serious issues about the viability of unions in the U.S. Loss of union membership means a loss of union power that has a cascading effect for readers of "Thought & Action" and their students, as well as other union members. The authors call for educators to take the teachable moments provided by "Friedrichs" and pending "right to work" legislation to discuss the changing nature of work and unions in the 21st century as educators prepare students for the workforce and ask them to consider greater existential questions.
National Education Association. 1201 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-833-4000; Fax: 202-822-7974; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York; Wisconsin
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A