Rebecca Friedrichs on #RedForEd: Teachers Are Being Used to Advance Union Agenda
Educator and author Rebecca Friedrichs described the #RedForEd movement — pushed by teachers’ unions and their political allies — as a “deception” that uses teachers as pawns to advance the unions’ far-left political agenda to “fundamentally change [American] culture.”
Friedrichs, the plaintiff in the 2016 Supreme Court case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, offered her remarks in a Tuesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Friedrichs said, “What the teachers’ unions really are — and I’m talking about state and national teachers’ unions — they’re really the political action committee of the far left. They take teachers’ dues money to fight for what they call social justice — their definition of social justice — which is all this far-left March for Our Lives, and all these things that they believe in.”
Friedrichs continued, “Teachers have absolutely no idea that they’re funding this stuff. I’m not surprised teachers bought into the deception, and I know that a lot of teachers did not, but those teachers are silenced by all the bullying, which is why I’m out here speaking on their behalf. No surprise. No surprise with the six percent raise, either, because, this isn’t really about teachers. This is about unions controlling our schools and changing our country.”
Pollak brought up the recently reached agreement between the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that ended the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles, CA.
The Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) local chapter supported the teachers’ union’s strike in Los Angeles, joining picket lines and insulting the “scabs” hired by the school district.
Pollak noted, “One of the other social justice provisions in the deal is that the district is apparently going to provide some kind of immigration attorneys for students in the district because of the politics of amnesty, sanctuary cities, and that sort of thing. This is what they secured from the district.”
Friedrichs stated, “Teachers don’t know — and I hope they’re listening, right now — teachers unions are the ones that go out and march in these big rallies in support of sanctuary cities. They have big giant signs that say, ‘Abolish ICE,’ and they have in their resolution documents that they insist that teachers disobey ICE agents.”
Friedrichs added, “So the whole immigration attack on our president and on common sense — protecting our borders — it’s all coming from the teachers’ unions, and again, teachers have no idea they’re funding it, and they didn’t have any idea they were striking for it, either. I’m sure.”
Mansour asked about the #RedForEd political movement pushed by nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), as a social media hashtag to rally and organize teachers strikes last year in states across the nation.
“I wanted to ask you about [unions] using teachers in this way,” said Mansour. “I’m looking at this #RedForEd hashtag movement that is springing up in state after state, looking as if they’re just grassroots protests by teachers for better pay.”
Mansour continued, “They seem to be much more successful in red states, because I think they’re targeting the issue of teacher pay there. Teachers’ pay hasn’t been expanded as much [in red states because] there is tighter control on the fiscal budget in these states. So it’s a legitimate concern with a lot of teachers there.”
Mansour went on, “So they use this pay grievance. The unions are basically parlaying this organizing of teachers around the pay issue as a means to get ‘educator-friendly politicians’ elected. It seems as if the pay issue is just a Trojan horse for the full-on left-wing agenda of these unions. Am I wrong on this?”
Friedrichs replied, “You are spot on. … and I quote a teacher from Arizona named Catherine Barrett — Catherine’s very brave — she was a union leader and part of the beginnings for the #RedForEd movement that they are claiming is a grassroots movement.”
Friedrichs continued, “Catherine said Arizona Education Association (AEA) was present at every meeting while forming #RedForEd. If we were grassroots, we would’ve had meetings without AEA. She told me that what the unions did with this grassroots movement in Arizona was push for the pay raise.”
Friedrichs explained, “All the teachers believed, ‘Oh, this is a pay raise,’ and then [Catherine Barrett] told me, after the Arizona governor granted the teachers the pay raise, ‘They never even thanked him.’ They brought in agitators from Chicago and morphed the #RedForEd into the Invest In Ed Ballot initiative to raise taxes on Arizonans. It was obvious that teachers were used to promote the propaganda of the NEA.”
Mansour asked whether the #RedForEd movement is a reaction to the Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council (AFSCME).
“How does this relate to the [Supreme Court’s] Janus decision?” asked Mansour. “Because the Janus decision basically said that these public sector unions could no longer force non-members to pay [union] dues. It also had a clause in there saying that you’re not automatically opted-in to the union.”
Mansour continued, “So [Janus v. AFSCME] must have limited the ability of these teachers’ unions to collect money and get the data they need to organize, because as you say, these teachers’ unions act as a political arm of the Democratic Party, providing essentially in-kind donations. That’s what these union dues are really for. It’s just political stuff. So how did Janus affect their ability to do that, and do you think there is a relation between Janus and this whole #RedForEd thing?”
Friedrichs answered, “First, I know #RedForEd is a direct correlation to the Janus decision because during Janus’s oral arguments, the attorney for the unions made the following threat. He told the justices that if employees were freed from forced unions fees, that unions would, quote, ‘raise an untold specter of union unrest throughout the country,’ end quote, because, quote, ‘union security is the trade-off for no strikes.'”
Friedrichs added, “So the unions are pitching a major temper tantrum here. They’re going to wreak havoc across the country until they get what they want. That’s what bullies do. And it’s time we all stopped them. That’s why I’m passionately speaking out and asking teachers [to] please inform yourself about where your money’s really going. You’re being used to fund a very angry agenda.”
Friedrichs explained the impact of the Janus v. AFSCME decision on teacher enrollment into unions.
“Any teachers that were already in the union are still in,” stated Friedrichs. “So they don’t have to opt in. They’re already in. They have to figure out how to opt out, and the unions make it very very complex and difficult for them to opt out. If you were not already in, then you have to opt in, but the unions bully you and do all these things to get you to opt in.”
Friedrichs went on, “So yes, the unions are afraid of this decision. They know that now that people have choice, [and] that that’s a threat to them. Instead of doing a really good job and earning business from workers, they’re bullying everybody because their goal isn’t really to represent employees. Their goal is to fundamentally change our culture, and to control our schools and indoctrinate our children. That’s why they are having these picketing fits all over the country.”
Mansour remarked, “This is what’s so sad. These teachers in red states probably just think that they are voting for a pay raise [and] that they’re striking for that. They don’t realize, maybe, that what they’re actually doing is getting the full-on left-wing agenda. It’s not just about the pay. Teachers are being used here, it seems like.”
Friedrichs concluded, “It doesn’t just seem like it. They are. They’re being used.”
Mansour suspected, “It was so successful the way that they organized this thing [in 2018]. It really seems to me like a trial run for 2020. It’s just going to keep getting bigger and bigger.”
Friedrichs explained in a January column in the Orange County Register how member dues provide billions of annual tax-free dollars to teachers’ unions. Teachers’ unions then fund left-wing activism and partisan Democrat politics.
State and national teachers’ unions create all sorts of angry, far-left “grassroots movements” off the backs of teachers. Educator activists lead Antifa, the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street. March for our Lives was organized by teacher union leaders, and NEA gave its highest award to Colin Kaepernick while union leaders took a knee during the national anthem.
The two national teachers’ unions, NEA and AFT, boast total membership of 4.7 million educators, and dues average $1,000 annually. Do the math: $4.7 billion, tax free. Money used to push their angry, far-left social, sexual and political agenda. That’s why unions are “raising our voices to protect public schools.” Who cares about the kids. Kids don’t pay dues.
Two weeks ago, Friedrichs told Breitbart News that then-ongoing teachers’ strikes in California are “about more money for teachers unions’ far-left politics.”
Friedrichs is the author of Standing Up to Goliath: Battling State and National Teachers’ Unions for the Heart and Soul of Our Kids and Country.
Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 9 p.m. to midnight Eastern (6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.