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Eye On Olympia

Teachers union wins Supreme Court case…

The state Supreme Court this morning upheld the Washington Education Association in a five-year-old case over whether the union was improperly using non-members’ fees for politics.

In a 6-3 ruling, the court ruled unconstitutional a state law banning unions from spending non-members’ fees on politics.

The majority also found that “there is no indication or argument that WEA is compelling non-members to support political activities.”

“This decision from the high court is yet another affirmation of educators’ political rights,” said WEA president Charles Hasse.

The case was one of a series of complaints and court fights between the union and the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative group based in Olympia.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling strikes a terrible blow against the rights of workers in Washington State,” said Mike Reitz, director of EFF’s labor policy center.

In a dissent to Thursday’s ruling, Justice Richard Sanders said “the majority turns the First Amendment on its head,” since there is no constitutional right for unions to collect dues or fees from workers.

Read the majority opinion, written by Justice Faith Ireland, here.

And Sanders’ dissent here.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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