Interview with Friedrichs v. CTA Plaintiffs

Yesterday, the Washington Post published excerpts from separate interviews it conducted with Rebecca Friedrichs and Harlan Elrich, two of the plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. CTA. In addition to discussing questions such as why they got into teaching in the first place, and what the teachers’ lounge has been like for them recently, Friedrichs and Elrich also offer explanations as to why they are lending their names to the suit — including Friedrichs’s account of her time as secretary of her union local. Here are a few notable quotes:

On their experience with the union:

Friedrichs: “I decided to become an agency fee payer again because I knew from personal experience that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make a difference, even with a voice.”

Elrich: “I realized much of what the union does goes against my beliefs. Recently in California they had the vote on same-sex marriages. I am against same-sex marriages, and from my understanding the union put a lot of money into supporting them. And they have put money into many Democratic candidates, all the way up to presidential elections — candidates I do not support.”

On why collective bargaining is political:

Friedrichs: “The official you put into office is one side and the union is on the other side and you’re bargaining for taxpayer money, only the taxpayer doesn’t get invited to the table. That’s political, in my opinion.”

Elrich: “I believe they’re using my money for politics, whether they say they are or not. I just think they’re putting my money into other things besides the negotiations and they call it collective bargaining. . . . They put a lot of money into negotiating for higher and higher salaries for teachers, and in the town that I’m teaching in, I think teachers are some of the highest paid, other than some doctors. I’m for a decent salary but I think we get paid well already compared to everyone else out there in this community.”

On how teachers can “advocate for better wages and better working conditions” without a union:

Friedrichs: “Unions are not going to go out of business over this. Unions will still have full monopoly bargaining power. They’ll still be there in the schools. The only difference I see is that workers will have a choice. If teachers see that a union is good, they’ll join. If they feel like me and they’re troubled in their conscience, they won’t join. To me, it’s a liberty issue.”

Elrich: “I don’t believe that [the unions will be weakened]. I believe that if the unions were to go away, I believe that we as a community of teachers could do negotiating for ourselves for salaries.”

On the issue of freeloading:

Friedrichs: “I’ve never asked the union to represent me in the first place. They’re the ones who asked for laws to give them this authority to negotiate on behalf of everybody.”

Elrich: “There are enough people who believe in the union that it will stay strong. Does that make me a freeloader? I don’t believe so.”

To read the rest of the interview, click here.

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