Judge sides with teachers' union

Jan. 03, 2013 @ 08:43 PM

A North Carolina judge has ruled Republican-backed legislation that aimed to cut off the revenue stream of a Democrat-friendly teachers association violates the constitution and can't be enforced.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner issued his order last month in favor of the North Carolina Association of Educators, which announced the decision Thursday. Gessner ruled the state's largest teacher lobbying group was the victim of "retaliatory viewpoint discrimination."

State House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said in 2011 the law cutting off NCAE from collecting membership dues from paychecks was payback for the group's political activity. He called the group a "political machine for the Left." The association is a force in state politics and was close to departing Gov. Beverly Perdue, a Democrat.

Spokesmen for Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, declined comment on the ruling.

Lawmakers cut off NCAE's dues collection while leaving alone payroll deductions for all other employee associations in the state, including three unions such as the State Employees Association of North Carolina.

About 80 percent of NCAE's revenues came from the checkoffs before the law was passed. The group represents about a third of the state's 180,000 schoolhouse workers.