OLYMPIA — Attorney General Rob McKenna today issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review the case of Washington v. Washington Education Association. The case concerns the right of the Washington Education Association to decide how to spend compulsory fees paid by public education employees who are not union members.
“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,” McKenna said. “By overwhelmingly approving Initiative 134, voters said they did not want people to be forced to fund union political activities against their consent. By accepting our appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court will now decide whether non-members, who are required to pay union fees, must affirmatively opt-in before the union can spend some of their non-member fees on political causes."
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 March, the State Supreme Court struck down the portion of I-134 requiring the WEA to obtain affirmative authorization in a 6-3 decision. The case will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in January.
Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725