Monday was an important day for America’s shrinking middle class. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case that could impose radical new limits on the rights of public sector workers—like teachers, nurses, and firefighters—to join together to win better lives for their families and communities.
What’s at stake is a basic democratic principle: all public workers that benefit from collective bargaining should be required to pay their fair share for those efforts.
So it’s no surprise that the Friedrichs lawsuit was filed by the Center for Individual Rights, a law firm with ties to anti-worker special interests—like the Koch brothers and ALEC. These are the same interests that have spent decades campaigning to weaken the ability of working people to join together against corporate power and the interests of the 1%. For all their talk of “freedom” and “individual rights,” billionaires like the Koch brothers sure are anti-democratic.
Part of their crusade against democracy is taking public goods and services from our hands by privatizing them. The Center for Individual Rights has received funding from pro-privatization foundations, including the Bradley Foundation, which has pushed for a massive privatization of public education in Wisconsin.
For all their talk of “freedom” and “individual rights,” billionaires like the Koch brothers sure are anti-democratic.
Clearly, Friedrichs is a direct attack on democracy and the middle class; it isn’t about free speech or fair policy.
The Court’s decision, expected before the end of June, will undoubtedly alter the American economy. As of last year, the middle class is no longer the nation’s economic majority, and public sector workers are the backbone of a vibrant middle class. If the Court rules in favor of Friedrichs, the middle class will suffer yet another blow. By standing with public workers, we stand for democracy.
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