Back to business as usual in Washington state politics

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The Washington Education Association (WEA) recently lost a minor battle in a decade-long judicial dispute with the state and its arch nemesis, the conservative Evergreen Legal Foundation. The dispute centered on the union's continuing desire to spend money on political campaigns. A settlement requires the WEA to pay $1 million, partly to reimburse teachers for improperly spending on political activities required contributions (known as "agency fees")--even though those teachers had elected not to join the union.

Before this most recent defeat, the union had been successful in having the state legislature modify a 1992 law to allow it to use teachers' dues--and not just money teachers had explicitly approved for political uses--on certain political activities, as long as the union has 'sufficient' general funding.

The new court decision won't put much of a damper on the union's forays into politics. As long as it doesn't dip into funds collected from these non-union members, it still has the dues from its 80,000 members to advance any political agenda.