Client Alert
Equally Divided Supreme Court in
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Ass'n.
On our January 11, 2016 Client Alert we informed you about the U.S. Supreme Court case of  Friedrichs v. California Teachers Ass'n. 578 U.S. ____ (2016), in which the Court was asked to determine  whether an agency-shop provision in a collective-bargaining agreement covering governmental employees is constitutionally valid. An agency-shop provision "is a contract provision requiring the employer to discharge any nonunion employee who refuses to pay a fee to the union for its service as bargaining agent." 20 Williston on Contracts § 55:39, Union security; Union or agency shop (4th ed.).
Plaintiffs brought the action before the Central District Court of California, arguing that  by requiring them to make any financial contributions in support of any union and to undergo the available opt-out procedures to avoid making those contributions, California's agency-shop arrangement violates their rights to free speech and association under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
The District Court applied the U.S. Supreme Court case of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), which upheld the constitutional validity of compelling employees to support a particular collective bargaining representative by paying dues, and the Ninth Circuit case of Mitchell v. L.A. Unified Sch. Dist., 963 F.2d 258, 263 (9th Cir.1992), which established that the opt-out procedures ensure protection of the employees' First Amendment rights. Hence, the District Court entered judgment on the pleadings in favor of Defendants. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment.
On March 29, 2016 the judgment was affirmed by an equally divided Supreme Court.[1] This decision has no precedential value and leaves current law in place.
On April 8, 2016 the Center for Individual Rights and the lawyers from Jones Day law filed a petition for rehearing the case before the Supreme Court once the ninth Justice is confirmed. This would allow the controversy whether compulsory union fees violate the First Amendment to be decided by the full Court of nine Justices.

Goldman Antonetti & Córdova, LLC will issue additional updates on any new developments regarding this matter.

[1]    The U.S. Supreme Court was constituted by eight (8) Justices, given the death of
 Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016.
We at Goldman remain committed in assisting you and your business to adjust to these changes in the Law. For further information you may contact any of the attorneys in the Labor & Employment Law Department.
Attorneys - Labor & Employment Law Department
Luis F. Antonetti-Zequeira
Vicente J. Antonetti-Zequeira
Angel Berberena-Feliciano
Lorena Cortés-Rivera
José J. Fas-Quiñones
Amelia Fortuño-Ruiz
Cenia M. Mercado-Santana
Luis D. Ortiz-Abreu
Howard Pravda
Francisco M. Ramírez-Rivera
Jorge Rodríguez-Micheo
Javier G. Vázquez-Segarra

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