Greg Devereux, Executive Director of the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE), recently admitted that he—along with other union executives—believes that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide against forced unionism for public sector employees in the pending Freidichs v California case. Devereux also admitted that he “doesn’t think it will be the union-crippling catastrophe unions have long-claimed.”
California teachers, arguing that the union dues they are forced to pay are unconstitutional, filed the landmark Freidichs case. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the teachers, state employees could have the power to decide whether or not to join a union.
In making this admission of how he believes the Supreme Court will rule, Devereux “incorporates the usual rhetoric-laden railing against the union-busting movement in his speech.” Then, unexpectedly, he “switches gears to deliver a surprising message that right-to-work supporters have been making for decades.” The Washington Policy Center reports,
“Rather than continue to bemoan the impending demise of forced unionism, Devereux instead urges his union colleagues to ‘see Freidrichs as an opportunity.’ He believes many members are disconnected from the union because they often don’t see union representatives in their workplace, fighting for their interests and solving their problems. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling ending compulsory unionism would force labor to ‘internally organize in a way we never have before’ to demonstrate to workers ‘the value and power’ of unions:
“‘This is not rocket science, we know first hand that when members see the power of the union in action solving their problems in the work place it moves people to remain members.’”
Devereux goes on to remind his colleagues that unions only gained the right to collectively bargain wages in 2002. Unions like WFSE were built over the years without a public sector collective bargaining law forcing membership. Of course, as the Washington Policy Center points out, “since that legislatively protected expansion of forced unionism, the WSFE union has doubled in size.” The Washington Policy Center,
“Right-to-work advocates have long argued that both unions and workers benefit from right-to-work laws that prohibit compulsory unionism, precisely because such laws force unions to do the very best job possible for its members. Workers benefit from unions working as hard as possible on their behalf, and unions benefit because they become stronger as they are forced to become more efficient and more responsive to their members.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in December 2015, with a decision expected by June 2016.