Monday, November 23, 2015

Union bosses smear teachers in Supreme Court case

Vilifing teachers: AFL-CIO boss Rich Trumka is painting non-union teachers as enemies of "working people."
By Jason Hart

America’s most powerful union bosses are running a national smear campaign against 10 workers who fund their paychecks.

California teacher Rebecca Friedrichs and nine of her fellow educators are being vilified by executives of the country’s largest labor unions — including the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers.

Using money taken from workers’ paychecks, union bosses are portraying Friedrichs and her peers as allies of evil corporations and white supremacists.

AFT president Randi Weingarten has called Friedrichs part of an “assault on working people.” NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia has accused Friedrichs of “attacking working people.”

How did Friedrichs turn these self-styled champions of teachers against her? She is challenging their ability to take mandatory fees from non-members, in a case that has made its way before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The case was brought by billionaires and wealthy CEOs like the Koch brothers who want to rewrite the rules to only benefit them,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.

America Works Together, a coalition run by NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is trying to convince union members that Friedrichs will ruin their lives.

“Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is being pushed by special interests and corporate CEOs in an attempt to damage protections for hard working families and our communities,” the coalition warns.

Last week, the unions flooded their social media channels with a public relations blitz, calling the Friedrichs case an attempt by libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch to destroy unions.

America Works Together is gathering signatures for an AFT petition demonizing the Center for Individual Rights, a nonprofit giving Friedrichs legal counsel. As of Monday, fewer than 18,000 people had signed the online petition.

Relying on research from a City University of New York union, America Works Together asserts CIR “has been funded by the Koch Brothers, other right-wing one-percenters, and even white supremacists.”

CIR president Terry Pell told the unions are “complaining about imagined contributions to CIR” to distract from their own massive paychecks. America Works Together failed to respond to a request for comment.

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