Governance, Education Public Unions, Civil Justice, Pre K-12
September 11th, 2015 2 Minute Read Amicus Brief by Daniel DiSalvo

Amicus Brief on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

Read the entire brief here: Brief Amicus Curiae of Daniel DiSalvo in Support of Petitioners


Amicus curiae Daniel DiSalvo is an associate professor of political science at The City College of New York-CUNY and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Prof. DiSalvo—an objecting public-sector union member himself—has written extensively on the subject of public employee unions, including, most recently, Government Against Itself (Oxford Univ. Press 2015). Professor DiSalvo previously participated in this case. See Brief of Constitutional Law Professors, Prof. Daniel DiSalvo, the Judicial Education Project, and Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioners, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915 (filed Feb. 27, 2015). Amicus curiae’s interest is in seeing the proper application of this Court’s First Amendment precedent in the public-union setting.


Public-employee unions are unlike private-sector unions in that they are not only unions but also “unique interest groups.” Daniel DiSalvo, Government Against Itself 28 (2015). As Petitioners explain, they actively participate in the political process and regularly engage in political speech. See generally Brief for Petitioners (“Pet. Br.”) Indeed, through their lobbying, campaign activity, and collective bargaining, they have an outsized influence on public policy.

Public unions’ unique ability to effect policymaking stems from certain advantages they have over all other interest groups: they have “access to policy makers through the collective bargaining process,” they can easily “mobilize” their membership for “electoral participation,” and they “enjoy a steady, reliable revenue stream” through the collection of union dues that “must be paid by all members in a bargaining unit regardless of whether they join the union or not.” DiSalvo, supra, at 29. Known in the vernacular as “agency fees,” because they are the monies nonmembers must pay for the union acting as their agent in collective bargaining, these mandatory dues provide a strong incentive for public employees to join the union. This is because unions often set the agency fee as nearly identical to union dues. Consequently, in states that permit agency fees, union membership is higher.

Brief Amicus Curiae of Daniel DiSalvo in Support of Petitioners (pdf)


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