The National Right to Work Foundation (NRTWF) is demanding the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) refund up to $100 million in union fees to California state workers.
The move follows the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision banning unions from automatically deducting fees from non-members’ paychecks.
The NRTWF announced that the Janus decision strengthens its class-action suit, titled Hamidi et al. v. Service Employees Union International, Local 1000, filed on behalf of 40,000 California state employees. The lawsuit seeks refunds for non-union workers whose pay was seized by SEIU officials who have claimed since 2012 that only public workers who affirmatively opt out of the union can avoid being charged full union dues.
NRTWF quoted from the Janus ruling: “[N]either an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”
Janus invalidated a four-decades-old practice by public sector unions of collecting what unions call “fair share fees” from all workers, supposedly to pay for the unions’ collective bargaining-related costs. The plaintiff in Janus contended that some of the unions’ collective bargaining activities were inherently political.
NRTWF President Mark Mix stated on the Foundation’s website that not only are the 40,000 California government employees closer to getting back refunds from the SEIU, but the “effect of the Janus decision is just starting to be felt.”
Mix may have been referring to the class-action lawsuit filed on July 2 by Scott Wilford and six other Orange County teachers against California teachers’ unions, which were automatically deducting agency fees from non-union teachers.
Wilford and petitioner Rebecca Friedrichs were both non-union teacher plaintiffs in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the 2016 case in which the Supreme Court ipreserved agency fees in a 4-4 tie decision after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.