Kyle Barry, Director of Justice Programs
(202) 464-7365; [email protected]

Telephone briefing: Wednesday, Jan. 6, on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

On Monday, January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, one of the most significant and far-reaching cases of the current term. Engineered by corporate interests and the conservative Center for Individual Rights—a group funded by right-wing activists including the Koch brothers—Friedrichs is a direct attack on working Americans and the unions that represent them. With income inequality expanding and the middle class shrinking, Friedrichs threatens to further imbalance an economy already rigged for the super-rich.

Before oral argument, hear about the real-world implications of Friedrichs for public employees, working families (especially those within historically marginalized communities like women and people of color), and the broader American economy.

The legal claim in Friedrichs is a challenge to “fair share” fees, which are the fees all employees, including non-union members, pay to help cover the costs of union representation. The fees never fund union political activity, and do not require anyone to join a union. They simply ensure that all those who benefit from collective bargaining pay their fair share of that benefit, without leaving their coworkers to pick up the tab. It is no surprise, then, that the Supreme Court unanimously upheld fair share fees for public employees in the 1977 case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

If this were simply about the law, Abood would decide the matter. But Friedrichs was manufactured specifically to protect corporate interests and strengthen the 1 percent. At risk are public employees of all stripes and the communities they serve. First responders, nurses, sanitation workers, home care providers, teachers—all could see their ability to organize undermined and their collective voice silenced. And we would all face the consequences of lower-quality public services and an economy that favors only the wealthy few.

It is these practical implications that this telephone briefing will explore, with speakers that include union members (a 9/11 first responder, a child protection worker, and a teacher), along with economic and legal experts to address the potential impact of this case on the ability of unions to create economic opportunity and represent the interests of everyday Americans.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016
3:00 p.m. EST


  • Robert Bullock, child protection worker, Massachusetts
  • Vincent Variale, EMS lieutenant, New York Fire Department and 9/11 first responder
  • Sarah Leberstein, Senior Staff Attorney, National Employment Law Project, Washington, D.C.
  • Lawrence Mishel, President, Economic Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Others TBD

PLEASE RSVP HERE to receive call-in information.