Reason reported Monday that despite the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling some unions, in California and a few other states, are refusing to acknowledge the ruling.
Take the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 521, a San Jose–based group representing some 40,000 workers in California’s Central Valley. It has exclusive collective bargaining rights for workers in the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCTA). Like most unions in the pre-Janus days, its contract requires SCVTA employees to pay dues even if they do not choose to join the union, though non-members pay a lower cost “agency fee” instead of full dues.
Those “agency fee” payments were the centerpiece of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The court held that unions can no longer collect those fees from non-members…
Yet for some reason, SEIU Local 521 is still collecting agency fees from SCVTA employees. William Hough, for example, has worked at the SCVTA since 2005 but refrained from joining the union. Now he’s the lead plaintiff in a class action suit seeking to stop the union from collecting those fees without nonmembers’ consent. He also wants a refund of all agency fees previously collected.
Last month, Hough filed a class action lawsuit seeking the refund of those fees on behalf of up to 5,000 people. From the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is representing Hough:
California’s law authorizes SEIU Local 521 and its affiliates to extract union fees from non-union members as a condition of employment. In the lawsuit, Hough claims that the applicable statute, and any other statute that authorizes Local 521 to collect forced union fees from public employees without their affirmative consent, violates the First Amendment. He asks the court to declare those laws unconstitutional.
The complaint requests that the court certify a class that includes all individuals who at any time within the applicable limitations period were forced to pay union fees to SEIU Local 521 and its affiliates without their affirmative consent and knowing waiver of their First Amendment rights.
But Reason points out this isn’t the only place in the country where this is happening. People in Oregon, Massachusetts, and Washington state are facing hurdles in their efforts to separate themselves from unions and their mandatory dues.
I’m not an attorney so I won’t offer a legal opinion but logically the Supreme Court’s opinion in Janus seems like it ought to have some impact on the states, though it may take lawsuits to make that clear. Hopefully, with that process now underway, we’ll begin seeing the impact on union giving to Democratic candidates fairly soon.