Philadelphia—On Monday, adjunct professor Ryan Eckes, who teaches English at Temple
University and is a member of United Academics of Philadelphia, will travel to
Washington, D.C., to speak on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court before oral
arguments begin in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a historic labor
case that threatens workers’ rights.
“Throughout our recent organizing campaign, my colleagues and I spoke to the
importance of protecting our fundamental right to come together and stand up for our
beliefs,” said Eckes. “I’m very proud to be taking this message from my campus to
our nation’s capital, to show my colleagues and students that we can’t just talk
about democracy; we must participate in it. And that’s what this case is all
about—powerful special interests trying to silence the voices of workers like me,
who play by the rules but still struggle to get by in a rigged economy favoring the
Eckes is an active leader of United Academics of Philadelphia, an affiliate of the
American Federation of Teachers. He was on the organizing committee at Temple
University, where more than 1,400 adjuncts recently voted to unionize, and he’s
taught as an adjunct at the Community College of Philadelphia, Rowan University and
Philadelphia University over the last decade. His books include Valu-Plus and Old
News (Furniture Press, 2014, 2011).
The Friedrichs case asks the Supreme Court to decide whether public sector unions
may continue to charge nonmembers a fee equal to the cost of representing them to
their employers. Since no one is required to join a union—though unions are required
by law to represent everyone in the workplace—this “fair share” fee ensures that all
employees contribute to the cost of securing the benefits, security and job
protections the union negotiates and everyone enjoys.
An unfair ruling in this case would gut the existing collective bargaining laws in
Pennsylvania and 16 other states that give higher education faculty and staff, state
employees, nurses, firefighters and other workers the right to negotiate with
employers over wages, benefits and working conditions, as well as to advocate for
high-quality education and services.