Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review a state court decision that dismissed a 1992 Washington State law protecting teachers’ rights. The Court will hear the parallel appeals of Washington v. Washington Education Association and Davenport v. Washington Education Association as a single case.
A paycheck protection measure passed by nearly 73 percent of Washington voters in 1992 requires that unions receive the “affirmative authorization” of workers before spending their mandatory dues or agency fees on politics.
The Washington State Attorney General sued the Washington Education Association (WEA) for flagrant violation of the law, and the trial court fined WEA more than half a million dollars. The union won its appeal, claiming the law “burdened” its rights of free speech, and the Washington Supreme Court agreed.
The attorney general’s case and a companion class action suit filed by teachers (Davenport) were both appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
An amicus brief filed in August with the U.S. Supreme Court featured evidence produced by the Independence Institute. Following a 2004 campaign by the Institute to notify teachers union members of their right to a political refund, the number of refund requests increased fourfold. Some teachers have told the Institute they have been union members for years without knowing about the political refund.
The current Supreme Court case could have implications for the First Amendment rights of Colorado teachers and other workers.
Unlike Washington State, most Colorado teachers are not required to join or to pay fees to a union, though union members are able to obtain a refund of political contributions. Please see the Independent Teachers Web site for more information.