Attacks on educator rights and union fair share halted…for now

On April 14, the California Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the lower court’s decision in the Vergara v. California case. The suit sought to dismantle seniority and due process rights for teachers in the name of students’ equal access to education. The appellate court wisely ruled that there is no constitutional link between tenure and student performance.

In the ruling, the three-judge panel stated, “Plaintiffs failed to establish that the challenged statutes violate equal protection, primarily because they did not show that the statutes inevitable cause a certain group of students to receive an education inferior to the education received by other students.”
The unanimous appellate opinion is a stinging rebuke to Judge Rolf M. Treu’s poorly-reasoned ruling, and to the allegations made and millions of dollars spent by wealthy anti-union “education reformers,” led by Silicon Valley millionaire David Welch, to bypass voters, parents, and the Legislature with harmful education policy changes.

The victory in the Vergara case came on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a court’s lower decision to strike down the Friedrichs v. CTA case, which attempted to eliminate fair share payments for public sector unions. After the sudden death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled 4-4 on March 29, keeping in place the court’s previous ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Abood said that bargaining unit members receiving benefits from the union may be required to pay for them.

“It does not mean that our struggle is over,” says CFT President Josh Pechthalt. “The deep-pocketed backers of the Friedrichs lawsuit and others will not simply give up. But we have been given the gift of time to organize our members and the community to repel 
these attacks.”

Backers of Friedrichs have already asked the Supreme Court to take up the case again when a ninth justice is confirmed, magnifying the high stakes in this November’s presidential election.

— By CFT Staff

Learn more about the Vergara lawsuit here.