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Most Recent Attack on Agency Fee or Fair Share Agreements

Posted On: November 17, 2015

Among the most closely watched cases on the 2015-2016 term of the United States Supreme Court docket this year will be Friedrichs v. California Teachers’ Association. This is a challenge by a group of California teachers to the principle that they are required to contribute financially to the labor union that represents them, bargains for their increased wages and benefits, and files grievances on their behalf. The teachers behind the lawsuit are non-union employees represented by the California Teachers’ Association (“CTA”) whose contributions are commonly known as “fair share” or “agency” fees. The teachers that object to these fees seek a categorical rule eliminating the option for public employers to agree to fair share fees and asks the Court to reject almost forty years of precedent – and more than fifty years of consistent practice in California. They are supported by multiple so-called Right-to-Work proponents, whose goal is the decimation of the labor movement in the United States.

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute concluded that, on average, the elimination of agency fee provisions results in a reduction in labor union bargaining strength and a commensurate 9% reduction in pay as compared to labor unions operating in states where agency fee laws exist.

This is clearly a critical case.

Messing Adam & Jasmine LLP brought together a coalition of unions and umbrella organizations representing peace officers, firefighters, and supporting public safety employees in communities throughout California, New York state and across the Nation, representing over a half million public safety employees. Working with Stanford Law School Professor Pamela Karlan and her team at the Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, the coalition filed its amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in support of Respondent CTA on November 12, 2015. We encourage you to read the coalition’s brief, by clicking on the link provided.

Oral argument in the case is expected to be early next year with a decision likely right at the end of the Court’s 2015-2016 term in June.

If you have any questions about this blog, please contact Gary Messing (916.446.5297 or or Gregg Adam (415.266.1801 or

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