March 29, 2016
Today’s Supreme Court 4-4 ruling in the ‘Friedrich vs California Teachers Association case protected nurses and healthcare workers who join a union and who advocate for their workplace rights and the rights and safety of their patients and their communities.
Here in New Jersey, my union has been outspoken about hospital mergers, for-profit health care, nurse staffing levels, worker health and safety, the role of the NJ Department of Health and issues affecting the health and well-being of workers, patients and communities. When the institutions we work for cut corners on safety or the public health, we are often the first and only witnesses – ringing the alarm bell for the public. It is an essential part of our mission in representing health care workers and the patients and communities we serve, and a mission we intend to protect.
The current law requires a union to defend the rights of all of the workers in the workplace, regardless of their dues status, striking a reasonable balance between the need for effective unions and the protection of individuals’ views. The requirement that all employees must pay at least a “fair share” if they choose not be a full dues-paying union member works well, protecting those who do not want to support lobbying or political activity by their union, while protecting the rights of all public service workers to a voice in the democratic process.
Friedrichs v. California CTA is not an isolated case; it was one part of a continuing effort across the country to silence the voices of teachers, nurses, firefighters and public service workers and their unions. But the Supreme Court should not be the ground for political battles, or used to diminish the rights of our citizens and their democratic organizations, and we will continue to challenge those who would deny our rights.
For more information contact: Jeanne Otersen 201-262-5005 or cell 201-280-9279