National Consumers League

National Consumers League statement on today’s U.S. Supreme Court argument on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

January 11, 2016

Contact: Cindy Hoang, National Consumers League, or (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy group, has released the following statement about Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, scheduled to be argued before the Supreme Court today.

Friedrichs v California Teachers Association is a case handpicked by special, powerful anti-worker interests asking the Supreme Court to overrule a longstanding precedent established under Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

Last fall, NCL joined a Friend of The Court brief, signing on with the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights and the National Women's Law Center, arguing that the Court should uphold Abood v. Detroit Bd of Ed (1977), holding that public sector collective bargaining agreements may include “fair share” provisions. The brief details how unions provide one of the most successful vehicles for providing economic and professional opportunities for women, people of color, and LGBT individuals, including lowering the income gap and increasing access to basic benefits like health insurance and parental leave, and providing important protections against discrimination.

The National Consumers League believes that Abood is based on the constitutional principle that those covered by a union contract should be required to pay their share of fees. When employees elect a union to represent them, everyone who benefits from a negotiated contract should contribute to the costs of securing that contract, even those who might not agree with every union position.

Indeed, there are communities right here in Washington that work within this current fair share regime to very positive effect. In Montgomery County, MD, the superintendent, along with the three unions in the county, actually all sit at the table together each year to create a budget that aims to keep necessary cuts away from directly affecting students.

“It’s unfortunate that the Supreme Court is revisiting Abood, a case that has stood for 35 years. Since our founding in 1899, the NCL has supported the rights of workers to organize, be represented by a union, and have a communal voice that allows them to have an equal say over working conditions, benefits, and health and safety,” said NCL’s Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “That means that those benefitting from these contracts should contribute their fair share in dues and fees. The current system benefits the whole community because it brings better public services, stronger public schools, and more vibrant communities. If the Court bans fair share, it will make it more difficult for teachers, firefighters, and nurses to negotiate for wages, benefits, and improved public services. We call on the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and affirm the obligation of all covered by union contracts to pay their fair share.”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit