The U.S. Supreme Court decided last year in the Janus case that neither unions nor government employers can force workers to pay union dues to keep their jobs.
The decision overturned a policy that had assured unions of hefty guaranteed revenue.
But now the dispute is back in court.
A lawsuit has been filed against the University of California, Teamsters Local 2010, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and University of California Chancellor Janet Napolitano for refusing to stop taking money from two workers who do not want to be part of the union.
The workers, Michael Jackson and Tory Smith, are represented by the Liberty Justice Center and the Pacific Legal Foundation.
“Public employees have a First Amendment right not to be compelled by their employer to join a union … or to pay any fees to that union unless an employee ‘affirmatively consents’ to waive that right,” the complaint states.
“Such a waiver must be freely given and shown by ‘clear and compelling’ evidence.”
Since any “permissions” from Jackson and Smith came before the Supreme Court ruling, they “cannot constitute affirmative consent.”
Worse yet, however, the complaint explains, is that on the day that the Supreme Court freed workers from mandatory union membership and debt, then-California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a ban on employers letting their employees know about their constitutional rights.
That means Jackson and Smith are banned from talking to their employer and their employer is banned from talking to them about how to stop the mandatory union dues.
“Officials at the University of California, San Diego, told plaintiffs that they were muzzled from discussing union dues decisions because of the SB 866 Gag Rule statutes and that plaintiffs must direct their question to union representatives (who have an incentive to remain silent),” the complaint states.
So the university still takes money from the workers’ paychecks and sends it to the union.
But those actions, the complaint notes, violate the First Amendment and the workers’ rights to procedural and substantive due process under the 14th Amendment.
In California, the complaint charges, only a union can make changes to payroll deductions from which it benefits.
Both Jackson and Tory informed the union they had not consented to pay dues, and the union simply insisted they had to continue paying.
Pacific Legal explained: “Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. ASFCME that government employees cannot be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Following the decision, Mike Jackson and Tory Smith – both parking staff members at the University of California, San Diego – tried to leave Teamsters Local 2010. The union refused their requests, and when the two asked the university for help in the matter, they were told that California state law prohibited the university from talking to them about their constitutional rights.”
California law determines “state employers like UCSD are prohibited from giving truthful information to their employees about their constitutional rights to refrain from becoming or remaining a union member.”
“I love my job and working at UCSD, but I don’t want to be part of the union,” Jackson said. ”They’re taking hundreds of dollars from my paycheck every year to push their own agenda. I don’t feel like they represent me. I shouldn’t be forced to be a member of the union if I don’t want to be.”
Jeffrey M. Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, argued the Supreme Court held in Janus that public employees cannot be forced to join or pay money to a union.
“The Teamsters and the university are violating Mike Jackson and Tory Smith’s constitutional rights by preventing them from leaving the union until 2022,” he said.
PLF lawyer Timothy Snowball said, “Public employees must give clear permission before any money is taken from them to support a union.”