High Court Won’t Re-Hear Friedrichs Case


SEA/SEIU Local 1984 member leaders joined in demonstrations outside the Supreme Court the day of oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association earlier this year.

On Tuesday, the short-handed U.S. Supreme Court announced it wouldn’t re-hear the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case. That case had threatened to make so-called right  to work the law of the land, dealing a serious blow to labor unions.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court seemed poised to rule in favor of Friedrichs, a California school teacher, until the unexpected death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. The Friedrichs case ended up in a 4-4 tie and the plaintiff — backed by big-money anti-union interests — asked for a rehearing, which the justices denied on Tuesday. SEA/SEIU Local 1984 General Counsel Glenn Milner said this was good news, but would hardly be the last we’ll hear of right to work.

“There are numerous cases waiting in the pipeline that could effectively do what this case would have done,” Milner said. “It appears the justices rejected a rehearing because they knew the result would be the same as long as the court remains evenly divided.”

The Senate, including our state’s senior Sen. Kelly Ayotte, have been unwilling to consider President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacant seat, claiming that the next president should make the decision. That, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla said, drives home the importance of this coming election.

“Trump has said he will nominate a conservative judge, and we know the court’s current makeup, that would help make a national right to work law a reality,” Gulla said. “We need to elect a president who has the best interests of working people in mind, and we need to make sure that we elect a Senate that’s willing to do its job and actually consider nominees.”

The worry over right to work extends to the state level, as well, as all four major Republican candidates for governor have come out in favor of ending the “fair share” practice that cases like Friedrichs are targeting.

“It wasn’t that long ago that we fought off right to work in our state Legislature, and that was with a supportive governor in office,” Gulla said. “We’re facing this fight on all fronts, and we need to be united. Whether it’s through a court or the State House, right to work backers want one thing: to limit our power to advocate for ourselves. We can’t let them do that, and we need all members to get involved in the fight.”

Members can get involved by taking every opportunity to talk with candidates about issues such as right to work, public pensions and funding for public services. We’ll provide updates throughout the summer and fall on opportunities in which you can get involved. If you haven’t signed up for our political updates, you can do so here.

You can read more about the Friedrichs decision here and you can read more about the recently completed Supreme Court term here.

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