In the run-up to oral argument in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, OnLabor will be reviewing some of the significant amicus briefs that have been filed in the case.

Over seventy organizations “committed to civil rights and economy opportunity” have filed an amici brief in support of the Friedrichs respondents.

The coalition describes unions as “one of the most successful vehicles for providing economic and professional opportunities for American workers, and, in particular, for women, people of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (‘LGBT’) workers”:

Put simply, unions have provided a critical path to the middle class for generations of working people, including the nurses, first responders, teachers, and others who comprise the membership of public sector unions. A wealth of data shows that women, people of color, and LGBT workers represented by union contracts — which includes both members and non-members — face smaller income gaps, enjoy greater basic benefits like health insurance and parental leave, have safer workplaces, and are better protected against discrimination than their non-union counterparts.

These benefits are, in part, the product of the unions’ authority to collectively bargain with the public employer and enforce the terms of the agreement through grievance procedures. In turn, the capacity of a union to effectively bargain and represent all workers in a bargaining unit — union members and non-members alike — requires a fair share provision to avoid the problem of free riding. The empirical evidence shows that the economic opportunities that unions afford are substantially greater in those states where the fair share rule is in place.

The organizations then call upon the Supreme Court to affirm its decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education — which upheld the constitutionality of the fair share rule — lest it “compromise the opportunities that millions of working people and their families have relied upon for decades.” In short, the amici contend, “this is a case where the values of stare decisis are at their peak.”

Although the brief was spearheaded by the National Women’s Law Center, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign, dozens of other organizations spanning a wide spectrum of interests, causes, and constituencies also signed on, including the ACLU, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Center for Popular Democracy, Equal Rights Advocates, GLAD, the League of United Latin American Citizens, MALDEF, the NAACP (and the NAACP LDF), NOW, the National Urban League, and the Sierra Club.