CFIF Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Strike Down Decision Permitting Labor Unions to Spend Non-Member Fees on Unauthorized Political Activities

Friend of the Court Brief Implores High Court to Protect the Free Speech and Association Rights of Non-member, Fees-Paying Workers

November 15, 2006
Contact: Renee Giachino or Timothy Lee

CFIF Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Strike Down Decision Permitting Labor Unions to Spend Non-Member Fees on Unauthorized Political Activities

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- In an amicus curiae brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases Washington v. Washington Education Association and Davenport v. Washington Education Association, the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) this week joined the Cato Institute and Reason Foundation in asking the High Court to prevent labor unions from using non-member dues and "agency shop fees" on unauthorized political activity.

In 1992, the voters of Washington State overwhelmingly approved a "paycheck protection" initiative requiring labor unions to get "affirmative consent" from non-members before using their "agency shop fees" for political activism or to support political candidates, as well as other matters not related to collective bargaining.  However the Washington State Supreme Court recently ruled that such affirmative consent was too costly a burden and somehow violated labor unions' First Amendment rights.  The issue is currently on appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"By striking down the paycheck protection law overwhelmingly approved by the citizens of Washington, the state Supreme Court gave labor unions carte blanche to use non-member fees for political activity for which teachers and other workers may disagree," said Renee Giachino, CFIF's Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President.  "Inherent in the First Amendment are fundamental rights prohibiting such activity."

In the brief authored by attorney Erik Jaffe, Cato, Reason and CFIF argue that, "where there is no dispute that the political expenditures at issue are not germane and not chargeable, and the opt-in requirement only applies to employees who are not members of the union and hence are not presumptively associated with the union, an opt-in procedure is constitutionally required. ... In contrast to the clear First Amendment rights of nonmembers to remain silent and unassociated with the union's political activities, the union has no First Amendment right to extract excess agency fees and simply presume an expressive association with nonmembers who have conspicuously declined to join the union."

"The constitutional protections for free speech and association, in one way or another, must recognize the rights of non-members to remain silent and unassociated," added Giachino.  "Those rights have long been recognized by the High Court and must be applied to reverse the dangerous precedent set by the Washington Supreme Court."

The Center for Individual Freedom ( is a constitutional and free-market advocacy organization dedicated to protecting individual freedoms and individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, including free speech rights, the freedoms of association and religion, privacy rights, property rights, equal protection rights, and due process rights. In furtherance of its mission, the Center engages in advocacy in the legal, legislative, and educational arenas. Since its founding in 1998, the Center has filed numerous amicus curiae briefs before the Supreme Court in cases raising important questions concerning individual freedom.

[Posted November 16, 2006
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