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0 comments | October 31, 2006 | 3:32 PM | posted by Mike Reitz

Open Market and 5/17 on the WEA case.

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0 comments | October 30, 2006 | 8:46 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

Oral arguments for Washington v. WEA and Davenport v. WEA have been scheduled for January 10. Download the calendar here via SCOTUSblog.

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0 comments | 8:23 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

Focus on the Family reviews the WEA case.

WEA president Charles Hasse told the reporter the WEA tries to be bi-partisan in its political efforts. Yet just this year the WEA has worked to defeat a repeal of the estate tax. In the past two years approximately 95 percent of the group's partisan contributions have gone to a single party.

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0 comments | October 25, 2006 | 11:33 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

The Orange County Register editorial page calls for SCOTUS to reverse the Washington state ruling.

A fundamental American freedom is being able to spend – or not spend – one's own money on political campaigns, for persons or initiatives. Money forcibly taken from a person to support a candidate or initiative that the person opposes is a form of tyranny.

The Register does a good job of explaining the case details.

At issue are teachers who are not members of the WEA, and whether the WEA can take additional money from nonmembers' paychecks to be used for political purposes. Under Prop. 134, this is not allowed. Instead, a nonunion teacher must "affirmatively authorize" use of the money for union political activities.

Michael Reitz, director and legal analyst for the Labor Policy Center of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative Washington state think tank that is helping the workers, told us that Supreme Court case law already allows a nonunion employee to opt out of the use of political dues for political purposes by a public or private union. But the employee must take the first action, requesting a refund of the money.

Prop. 134, if upheld, would reverse the process, making the union ask nonunion employees first if their money can be used for political purposes. This is important because many employees simply don't realize that the money is being deducted from their paychecks.

Initiative 134 was the ballot measure passed by 72 percent of Washington voters in 1992 that implemented the "affirmative authorization" requirement.

Coercion should play no role in raising money for political campaigns.


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0 comments | October 19, 2006 | 1:31 PM | posted by Mike Reitz

Tracey Bailey, the 1993 NationalTeacher of the Year and director of national projects for the Association of American Educators, writes that Washington / Davenport vs. WEA have the potential to affect teachers nationwide. His piece in Human Events:

I am personally familiar with the pressure and coercion that is placed upon teachers to pay union dues, even in right-to-work states. As a first-year teacher, I received hate mail and insults when I didn’t join the union immediately upon beginning my teaching career. This case is an excellent chance for teachers to be protected, not only from forced payments for unwanted union politics, but also from the bullying and coercion that too often accompanies unionism and union dues.

I commend the court for accepting this important case. I hope that the court will render a decision that helps protect the personal finances—and personal freedoms—of all of America’s teachers.

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0 comments | October 17, 2006 | 9:35 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

The Center for Union Facts executive director Rick Berman has a guest commentary in the Seattle P-I: High court to weigh in on union political giving.

Even the union members who share their leaders' electoral preferences prefer to have personal control over their political money. A 2004 Zogby poll found that 61 percent of unionized employees support "paycheck protection" laws like Initiative 134. If Washington's example is any indication (teacher "participation" in union giving dropped 86 percent after Initiative 134 became law), even more than that will take advantage of it.

Needless to say, union bosses will happily spend their members' compulsory dues fighting to keep those dues compulsory. In March the Washington Supreme Court overturned paycheck protection -- at the expense of teachers and the will of the electorate -- but its federal cousin may soon uphold once and for all workers' rights to abstain from union political giving.

The commentary seems to have upset the folks at the Washington State Labor Council, judging from their vitriolic response.

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0 comments | October 12, 2006 | 4:18 PM | posted by Mike Reitz

Colorado-based Independence Institute's Ben DeGrow writes about the WEA cases in this column in the Rocky Mountain News.

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0 comments | October 11, 2006 | 9:55 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

The Washington Education Association continues to insist it does not spend non-member agency fees on political activity: here and here.

Yet the union has given WEA-PAC $137,708 just this year alone.

And it has admitted in court documents to spending agency fees on politics.

  • When sued by the attorney general, the WEA admitted to violations. Defendant’s Answer and Affirmative Defenses, November 22, 2000. “Defendants admits that it collects agency shop fees from agency shop payers… [and] that a portion of these funds is deposited in the WEA’s general treasury….” Defendant’s Answer, ¶ 10. “Defendant admits that during the past five years, it has expended funds from its general treasury for contributions and expenditures to influence an election or to operate a political committee,” Defendant’s Answer, ¶ 11.

  • “[WEA] political advocacy … is financed almost entirely by members’ dues and only to a very small extent by agency fee moneys.” WEA Brief in Opposition, U.S. Supreme Court, August 14, 2006.
Furthermore, campaign finance regulators and the trial court judge ruled the used non-member dues in violation of the law.

  • The state Public Disclosure Commission found the WEA guilty of multiple campaign finance violations and voted unanimously to turn the case over to the attorney general for prosecution. Complaint for violation of RCW 42.17.760, ¶ 4.1, October 9, 2000.

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0 comments | 9:32 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

The Washington Times has this editorial on the WEA case.

In 1779, Thomas Jefferson famously wrote: "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." Jefferson's dictum, of course, never deterred Big Labor from using dues and collective-bargaining payments from members and nonmembers to finance a liberal political agenda, which in many cases had nothing to do with labor concerns and frequently supported the election of liberal Democrats whom more than a third of union members routinely opposed in the voting booth.

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0 comments | October 09, 2006 | 9:36 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

The Olympian says it's time to get clear guidance on Washington's affirmative authorization law.

Who would think that an emotionally charged political squabble over union fees here in Olympia would make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court docket?

It's about to happen because the nine justices have agreed to hear a case on whether public employee unions must get special permission before spending some workers' dues on political causes.

The editorial traces the history of the case before pointing out the main issue.

The core of the issue is whether teachers must say "yes" before the fees are used to further the union's agenda or if the union can spend the fees unless the teachers say "no."

As the Olympian says, this question has "important ramifications" for teachers and other workers nationwide.

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0 comments | October 02, 2006 | 9:55 AM | posted by Mike Reitz

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page jumps into the paycheck protection case.

It's no secret that the political power and influence of U.S. public-employee unions derives from their ability to collect mandatory dues. But the issue of whether these forced dues can be used for political activities without explicit permission to do so from workers could use some legal clarification.

The editorial notes that the Supreme Court has addressed this issue before.

In a landmark 1988 decision, Communications Workers v. Beck, the Supreme Court held that workers under union contracts couldn't be forced to pay dues for activities not directly related to collective bargaining. But enforcement, which falls to the Labor Department and National Labor Relations Board, has often been weak or nonexistent.

WSJ calls for a broad ruling from the Supreme Court.

The temptation for the Justices in the current case will be to rule narrowly on the First Amendment issue raised by the Washington supreme court and stop there. But the Court could do a service for the country by addressing the issue more fundamentally. ... The High Court now has an opportunity to set some national guidelines regarding the constitutionality of both paycheck protection laws for nonunion workers and the more general practice of unions extracting money from any worker involuntarily. Let's hope they don't take a pass.

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