Top Court to Hear Union Fees Case; Political Use of Cash Fought

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 27, 2006 | Go to article overview

Top Court to Hear Union Fees Case; Political Use of Cash Fought


Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Supreme Court said yesterday that it will decide whether a teachers union can collect fees from nonunion members and spend their money on political activity without their prior permission.

The court also agreed to hear a case that could determine whether the government may deport up to 8,000 criminal aliens, and accepted an appeal from Arizona to reinstate the death penalty against a two-time killer who says his attorney was ineffective.

In the union case, the court will decide whether the Washington Education Association (WEA) can spend money, collected from 3,000 nonunion teachers, on political activity without their prior consent. The teachers are required to pay fees to the union even if they don't belong to it because they are deemed to benefit from collective bargaining.

Washington state's Supreme Court ruled that the requirement is unconstitutional because it puts too much burden on the union to check with every nonmember.

The dispute actually involves two cases. One is an appeal by the state's attorney general defending the law, and the other is an appeal on behalf of teachers.

Stefan Gleason, vice president of the Fairfax-based National Right to Work Foundation, which is working on behalf of the teachers, said the case has big stakes because the state court's ruling could be seen to create a right to collect money even from nonunion teachers.

"We're trying to get the state Supreme Court overturned not necessarily because the underlying law is all that helpful, but particularly because of the bad precedent that was created," he said.

Charles Hasse, president of WEA, said that opponents are trying to turn the case "into a cause celebre" but that the union has taken steps to segregate nonmembers' fees so they don't pay for political activity. …

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