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September 26, 2006
AG McKenna's Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Hear I-134 Teacher Fees Case

OLYMPIA – The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether teachers, who are required to pay union fees, but are not union members, must affirmatively "opt-in" to have some of those fees spent on the union’s political activities– or whether the union can simply give them an option to "opt-out."

The Attorney General’s Office asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case after the state Supreme Court ruled the Washington Education Association to had the right to decide how to spend compulsory fees paid by public education employees who are not union members.

Actuality: "This is an extremely important case for the First Amendment rights of workers and we’re pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has chosen to hear our appeal." (7 seconds)

Initiative 134, passed by 73 percent of voters in 1992, required labor organizations to obtain the "affirmative authorization" (opt-in) of non-members before the organization could spend the fees for the union's political contributions and expenditures to influence an election or to operate a political committee.

The WEA contends all it is required to do is allow non-members the option to opt out of having their fees used for political purposes.

In a 6-3 decision, the State Supreme Court in March struck down the portion of I-134 requiring the WEA to obtain affirmative authorization. The case will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in January.

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Media Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725


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