By Lindsay Burningham / San Diego Education Association
As an elementary teacher I consider it a privilege to work with the students of San Diego. When students are engaged by educators within a climate of trust, we share in their joy when those “light bulb” moments happen and students are achieving at their full potential.
As the president of the San Diego Education Association, I have had the opportunity to expand my professional learning through school site visits throughout the city of San Diego. Irrespective of the amazing work I see accomplished by outstanding educators, paraprofessionals and administrators in those schools every day, I also see the effects of an economic system that has swung out of balance. Hardworking parents of our students are finding it more difficult to get by, even as an economic recovery has increased the fortunes of those at the very top of the economic class.
Now the Supreme Court is poised to hear a case that seeks to make it even worse for workers who want to stand together to have a voice in their workplace.
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is about undermining the rights of working people to negotiate together to improve their working conditions, ensure adequate healthcare, and secure a fair wage. Look no further than the lawsuit’s supporters- corporate CEOS and wealthy special interests who manipulate the economic rules in their favor by trying to make it even harder for working people like teachers, firefighters, police and public employees to come together, speak up, and get ahead. This case, which specifically targets public service workers, is just the latest tactic by the same wealthy special interests who have been attacking working people for decades.
While any case has its complexities, our position is simple and supported by previous Court rulings- requiring a worker to pay a fair share, or percentage cost of the work the union is legally required to perform for all employees, (whether or not they choose to join the union) is clearly not a violation of anyone’s rights. Every employee enjoys the benefits of the union’s efforts, including collective bargaining, salary and benefits enhancements, and the maintenance of that bargained contract, so everyone should share in the cost.
The middle class in this country continues to get squeezed. As career professionals, educators struggle to get ahead – and stay ahead – by working hard and banding together with our colleagues to secure better wages and benefits that can sustain our families. We work to improve teaching and learning conditions to help our students succeed, and fight for advancements that leave our communities better off than we found them.
The existing fair share system works. In the end we believe SCOTUS will see through the veneer and reject this lawsuit created by and for corporate special interests, and against American working families.
Lindsay Burningham is President of the San Diego Education Association