LAUSD employees file lawsuit against SEIU over union dues
Craig Clough | October 22, 2014
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Several LA Unified workers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 over what they say is an improper collection of their full dues.
In the complaint, which was prepared with free legal assistance by the National Right to Work Foundation (NRWF), the employes claim SEIU Local 99 union officials denied their requests to refrain from paying full dues, according to a NRWF press release. SEIU represents employees who work in a number of non-teaching jobs in public schools, including bus drivers, gardeners and cafeteria workers.
Under federal law set by the Supreme Court in the Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, public employees that must join a union and pay dues as a requirement for employment can request to withhold payment of any fees that support political causes not related to collective bargaining.
“Because California does not have Right to Work protections for workers, workers can be forced to pay union dues and fees to an unwanted union as a condition of employment. However, under Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent, workers who refrain from union membership can also refrain from paying for union politics and members-only events,” the press release said.
The release also added that despite “the workers’ requests to refrain from union membership and full union dues payments, the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to confiscate full union dues from the workers’ paychecks at SEIU Local 99 officials’ behest.”
The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit were identified by NRWF as grounds keeper Douglas Kennedy, bus drivers Eduardo Berumen and Griselda Moran and cafeteria worker Magi Shanagian.
“SEIU officials are stonewalling workers’ attempts to refrain from paying for the union bosses’ radical political agenda,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, in a statement. “This case underscores the need for California to pass a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”
SEIU Local 99 Interim Executive Director Scott Washburn issued a statement on the lawsuit.
“The lawsuit filed by the National Right to Work Foundation is yet another example of this groups attempt to silence the voice and strength of working families in this country. It is no coincidence that this suit was filed on the heels of the historic $15 per hour minimum wage increase won by school workers at LAUSD,” the statement said. “Wherever workers are making big strides to improve their lives and the wellbeing of their families and communities, we can expect to see attacks like this. SEIU Local 99 members will continue to stand strong and move forward with our efforts to ensure quality schools and good jobs for our communities.”
*Includes statement from SEIU