UC president Napolitano and California Attorney General Becerra named as defendants for facilitating policy to block university employees from exercising their rights
With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, two UC San Diego Health employees filed a federal class action lawsuit against the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) union and the University of California for seizing dues from their paychecks in violation of their First Amendment rights. The lawsuit states the dues seizures are unconstitutional under the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. In Janus , the Court ruled that deducting union dues from any public sector worker’s paycheck without his or her “affirmative and knowing” consent infringes the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The class action lawsuit names University of California President Janet Napolitano as a defendant for the university system’s role in perpetrating this scheme. It also names California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as a defendant for the state’s enforcement of the illegal union dues policy.
The lawsuit brought by two Service Desk Analysts, Pablo Labarrere and Sam Doroudi, recounts that UC San Diego Health officials had made all new employees “believe that it was a condition of employment to either join the union as full members or pay forced fees as nonmembers” during a mandatory orientation session. New employees were given and told to sign “dues deduction authorization cards” which provided that union officials would continuously collect dues from each employee’s paycheck unless a revocation letter was sent in a 30-day window before the annual anniversary of signing the card.
According to the lawsuit, the authorization cards did not explain, as Janus requires, that public sector employees “have a First Amendment right not to subsidize the union and its speech” and that signing the card would waive those rights. Labarrere and Doroudi eventually discovered their First Amendment Janus rights independently and sent letters to UPTE officials in December 2019 demanding that dues deductions be cut off. UPTE agents rebuffed both letters and continued to seize dues from Labarrere’s and Doroudi’s paychecks, ostensibly because they did not submit their requests within the “escape period” created by the union bosses.
The lawsuit contends that UPTE bosses are violating Labarrere’s and Doroudi’s First Amendment Janus rights by continuing to take dues from their paychecks without ever having received their “affirmative authorization and knowing waiver” of those rights. It also argues that the 30-day “escape period” illegally restricts Labarrere and Doroudi in the exercise of their Janus rights.
The class action lawsuit also seeks to stop UPTE bosses and the University of California system from enforcing the scheme against any other workers, and require UPTE officials to return all dues and fees to any member of the workplace that had their First Amendment rights violated under the policy.
Just last year, Ventura County Community College District math professor Michael McCain won a settlement in a similar class action lawsuit, also with free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union officials illegally attempted to restrict the time period in which McCain and his colleagues could exercise their Janus rights and cut off dues payments. Instead of facing Foundation staff attorneys in court, AFT officials settled the case and paid refunds to workers who had dues seized because of the illegal policy.
Foundation staff attorneys have litigated about forty Janus -related cases around the country for workers following the 2018 landmark Supreme Court case, which was argued and won by a National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney. Ten of those cases have settled favorably with relief for the plaintiff employees.
“The Supreme Court made it absolutely clear in Janus that union officials violate public workers’ First Amendment rights when they seize union dues without their consent,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Yet over a year and a half after the decision, California union bosses – with the assistance of state officials – continue to subject the state’s public servants to schemes that violate these rights, all to fill union coffers with more illegal dues.”