Union bosses love collecting forced union dues and fees from employees, and loathe people who get in their way, or even signal they might get in the way. That’s why, a few days ago, a crowd of Ohio AFL-CIO officials and militants applauded the fact that a distinguished jurist’s death had “saved” government union bosses from losing their compulsory-dues privileges, and laughed at the very notion that the man who was addressing them would mourn that death.
Early this week, pro-forced unionism U.S. Senate candidate Ted Strickland, a former Ohio governor who lost his reelection bid in 2014, was speaking at an AFL-CIO-sponsored rally in Cleveland when he began riffing on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a closely watched U.S. Supreme Court case brought by 10 independent-minded public educators in the Golden State with the help of the Center for Individual Rights, a public-interest nonprofit organization.
Relying heavily on High Court precedents argued and won by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys for independent-minded employee clients, the Friedrichs plaintiffs contended that statutes forcing union nonmembers to fork over union fees to help government union bargaining positions with which the employees may strongly disagree violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
After oral arguments were heard in January, many High Court observers predicted a 5-4 majority of justices would agree with the plaintiffs and overturn the 39-year-old precedent that had given a constitutional green light to government-sector compulsory unionism. But as a consequence of the sudden passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the five expected votes against the constitutionality of forced financial support for government unions, a few weeks after the Friedrichs arguments, the High Court ultimately deadlocked 4-4 on the case, thus allowing the 1977 anti-Right to Work precedent, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, to stand.
Union-label politicians like Strickland are obviously relieved that an evenly divided Supreme Court has upheld labor union bosses’ effective power to collect taxes from public employees who wish to keep their jobs, but they are also distressed Friedrichs was such a close call.
At the Cleveland event, Strickland happily observed that Scalia’s death in February had “saved” Big Labor. The audience erupted in applause. Strickland went on to insist that, all the same, that he doesn’t “wish anyone ill.”
However, as readers can confirm for themselves by listening to the audio link below, the Big Labor militants in Cleveland obviously didn’t believe his disclaimer, to which they responded by laughing heartily. And while Strickland himself was embarrassed when the recording of his comments became public on Wednesday, no one in the Ohio AFL-CIO hierarchy seems to be the least bit concerned about news reports that feature Big Labor bosses and their militant followers chortling about how government union chiefs’ forced-dues privileges were perpetuated.