California Court Worker Sues State of California and AFSCME Union for Blocking Him from Exercising Janus Rights
Court employee resigned and attempted to end all union payments, only to have union officials reject his union resignation and court officials continue seizing dues
San Francisco, CA (September 11, 2018) – With free legal assistance by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Mark Smith, an employee of the Superior Court of Contra Costa County in California, has filed a lawsuit against his employer and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2700 after his requests to resign from the union and stop paying dues were repeatedly rebuffed.
In Janus v. AFSCME, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 27, 2018 that mandatory union payments violate public sector workers’ First Amendment rights. Days after that, Mr. Smith moved to exercise his Janus rights. Smith submitted a resignation of his union membership, and told union and court officials they did not have his authorization for deducting union dues from his paycheck. Nonetheless, the court and AFSCME continued to siphon Smith’s hard-earned money without his consent.
When Smith sent his resignation via certified mail, the AFSCME Local 2700 officials left the delivery “unclaimed” according to postal service records. After the union officials’ repeatedly refused to honor Mr. Smith’s resignation requests, Smith filed a federal lawsuit against both his government employer and AFSCME at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for violating his First Amendment rights under the Supreme Court’s Janus precedent.
The lawsuit also will challenge a California law which requires public employers to deduct dues from workers at the union’s request, even if the worker, as Smith did, revokes any authorization for dues. That law was enacted just hours after the Supreme Court ruled in Janus and also blocks public employers from informing employees of their rights under Janus.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME protects public sector workers’ First Amendment right to refrain from being required to subsidize a labor union as a condition of employment. In the landmark case, the Supreme Court agreed with arguments made by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, who briefed and argued the case for Illinois state worker Mark Janus. In addition to striking down forced union fees, the Justices ruled that any union dues or fees taken without a public employees’ affirmative consent violates a worker’s Constitutional rights.
“As we’re seeing in Mark Smith’s case and others across the country, in their greed for more forced union dues, union bosses are apparently willing to ignore even a landmark Supreme Court ruling like Janus v. AFSCME,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Rather than respecting the rights of the workers they claim to represent, it will inevitably take litigation coast to coast to enforce public employees’ rights under Janus.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has established a special website, MyJanusRights.org, for public sector employees who have questions about or are looking to exercise their Janus rights.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.