For Immediate Release
January 7, 2018
Koppany Jordan, California Policy Center
Campaign to Kickoff in San Diego to Help Government Employees Get Rebates on Their Union Dues
Typical Employee Who Terminates Union Dues Will Save $800 Per Year
A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Janus v AFSCME) has given government employees the right to terminate their membership in government unions and prohibit unions from taking money out of their paychecks. Unfortunately, many government employees are unaware of their rights. Even worse, many union bosses are illegally denying requests from workers who want to discontinue their union dues and keep their money.
The typical government employee could save about $800 a year – with some saving as much as $1400 a year.
A bold pilot campaign is being launched in San Diego county by Reform California in partnership with California Policy Center Reform. The campaign has three components:
- Outreach and Canvassing at Government Agencies: Using emails, advertisements, and tabling in front of government agencies, the campaign will advise state and local government employees that they have a right to terminate paying union dues.
- A Simple Rebate Form: The campaign has worked with attorneys to devise a simple “Rebate Form” that any state or local government employee can sign to exercise their rights to leave the union. That form is online at www.UnionDuesRebate.org
- Pro-bono Legal Representation: The campaign is supported by pro-bono attorneys who are prepared to help individuals and classes of workers protect and assert their rights to terminate paying union dues.
The campaign is being piloted in San Diego County over the next two months – and if successful will be expanded statewide.
Carl DeMaio, Chairman of Reform California
Will Swaim, President of California Policy Center
Several government workers who want out of their unions
Tuesday, January 8 at 11 a.m.
Reform California Campaign Headquarters
1560 South Escondido Blvd
Escondido, CA 92025
“Government employees could use extra take-home pay, but government unions have forced them to pay dues every month and have given them little value in return.” —Will Swaim, California Policy Center
“We have heard from hundreds of government employees in San Diego county that want out of their union and want to keep their money, but the union bosses have illegally denied them their rights. That is completely unacceptable and illegal – and this campaign will give government employees the information, the vehicle and the legal support to fight back and keep their money.” —Carl DeMaio, Chairman, Reform California
This article first appeared on FlashReport.org.
Just in time for Christmas, the Los Angeles teachers union gave Thomas Few some good news: a refund of $433.31 dues he paid and the union’s promise to stop taking $80 per month from his paycheck.
Few said he is “elated by the victory,” but also determined to press forward with his lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers of Los Angeles.
“On June 27, the Supreme Court said government employees – including my fellow teachers in Los Angeles Unified – have the right to fund or to not fund union activities,” Few said. “Teachers shouldn’t have to make a federal case out of this.”
Beginning in June, Few told United Teachers of Los Angeles three times to stop taking cash from his paycheck. The third time, he says he placed a copy of his demand directly into the hands of a teachers union official visiting the San Fernando Valley school where Few teaches special-ed children.
But UTLA refused to stop taking his money. Then, on Nov. 13, the nonprofit California Policy Center and the Liberty Justice Center filed a federal lawsuit on Few’s behalf against UTLA and LAUSD. Two weeks later, UTLA did an about-face and sent Few the refund check.
The check came with a letter from UTLA executive director Jeff Good explaining that even though Good believes UTLA still has the right to take Few’s money, they are going to stop “rather than expend dues money on litigation.”
Gold claimed Few’s federal lawsuit suggested the teacher had a “misimpression that the union had not accepted your resignation.” In fact, Good told Few, the union had accepted his resignation.
But payments to the union were another matter, Good wrote: Few had “signed a separate agreement with the union, apart from your agreement to become a member, committing [Few] to pay an amount equivalent to dues to the union ‘irrespective of your membership status.’”
California Policy Center CEO Mark Bucher, one of the attorneys representing Few, called that a “desperate attempt by UTLA to skirt the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME.”
In that June 27 decision, the Supreme Court held that forcing government employees to join political organizations like UTLA violates their First Amendment rights.
“Arguing that Mr. Few can leave the UTLA as long as he continues to pay UTLA at the same rate is like a Vegas magician sawing a woman in half,” Bucher said. “It’s sleight-of-hand. In this case, it’s also deceptive and illegal.”
Bucher said the union’s capitulation does not end the federal suit, now scheduled for a February hearing in the U.S. Court in downtown Los Angeles.
“Even though UTLA has stopped taking money out of Mr. Few’s check, he does not intend on dropping the suit,” Bucher said. “Few is asking the court to declare that UTLA does not have the right to take his money, or the money of countless other teachers who are in the same position.”
Until his February hearing, Few said he’s focused on the spirit of the season. That means “spreading the good news to all of California’s government employees: you too qualify today for an end to dues deductions from your union.”
Then striking a lighter note, Few added, “With Christmas around the corner and the usual family expenses,” he says, “my wife and I are stoked to have our money back.”
Will Swaim is president of the California Policy Center. Contact him at Will@CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.
MEDIA ADVISORY from the
LIBERTY JUSTICE CENTER and
CALIFORNIA POLICY CENTER
firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-651-8611
email@example.com or 949-274-1911
EMBARGOED until Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. PST
Janus attorneys and California Policy Center represent Los Angeles teacher in lawsuit against LAUSD, UTLA
LOS ANGELES (Nov. 13, 2018) – Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center and the California Policy Centerhave filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Los Angeles teacher against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). The lawsuit alleges that the LAUSD and UTLA violated the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of association.
“After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, government employees have a choice and a voice when it comes to union membership,” said Brian Kelsey, senior attorney, Liberty Justice Center. “Public employers in California that continue to withhold union dues and fees from employees without clear, voluntary, and informed consent from those employees, are actively defying the Court’s ruling and are violating employees’ First Amendment rights.”
WHAT: Press conference and media availability announcing litigation filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
WHO: Plaintiff, teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District
Brian Kelsey, senior attorney, Liberty Justice Center
Mark Bucher, CEO, California Policy Center
Mark Janus, plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME and senior fellow, Liberty Justice Center
WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 10 a.m. PST
WHERE: New Los Angeles US Courthouse – outside Broadway Street entrance
350 W. 1stStreet
Los Angeles, CA 90012
INTERVIEWS: Speakers will be available to answer media questions following a brief statement.
The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest litigation center that fights to protect economic liberty, private property rights, free speech, and other fundamental rights. First and foremost, the Liberty Justice Center seeks to ensure that the rights to earn a living and to start a business, which are essential to a free and prosperous society, are available not just to a politically privileged few, but to all. The Liberty Justice Center pursues its goals through strategic, precedent-setting litigation to revitalize constitutional restraints on government power and protections for individual rights. Learn more at LibertyJusticeCenter.org.
The California Policy Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest organization that promotes prosperity for all Californians through limited government and individual liberty. Learn more at CaliforniaPolicyCenter.org.
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School officials in California’s sixth-largest school district are working overtime to promote a massive $1.2 billion bond tentatively scheduled for a districtwide vote in November. Yet behind their chatter about improving Santa Ana Unified facilities is a stark fact: Student enrollment there has been falling steadily for over 15 years. And declining enrollment means declining revenue from federal, state and local sources – about $10,000 per student. But at the same time, district spending, particularly on teacher salaries and benefits, has been rising. Where those two trends intersect – falling revenue, rising costs– is crisis.
Just last summer, the crisis claimed its first victims when the district declared it would have to lay off 287 teachers. The same teacher’s union that had pushed for the pay increases that precipitated the crisis helpfully provided district officials with the hit list – all of it based on one metric only: the last hired were the first fired.
But the crisis didn’t begin in 2017. An SAUSD demographer’s 2016 report illustrates a steady decline in SAUSD enrollment starting in 2003. That year, total student enrollment was 60,973. By 2012, enrollment had fallen to 53,493. This equates to an approximately 12% drop in enrollment and a $75 million loss in revenue. Long-range projections through this school year predict that the decline will continue.
As recently as June 26th — school trustees backed by the powerful teaches union approved regular annual salary increases. In addition to this most recent salary increase, teacher salaries were also raised from 2013-2015.
Losing cash, union-backed trustees ordered district staff to find a solution. Facilities maintenance was delayed. Major renovations were impossible. And so they settled on the November bond.
A bond is basically an IOU — the district’s promise that it will repay Wall Street lenders interest on a multi-million-dollar loan. District officials first pegged the amount of the loan at $479 million – enough, they said, to repair damage created by time and mismanagement. But in the past few weeks the amount of the bond has fluctuated from $518 million back down to $232 million. Neither figure includes interest payments on the loan, which will more than double its cost.
Santa Ana Unified hasn’t even finished paying off two existing loans, from 1999 and 2008. They should be paid off by 2040. By that time, last month’s graduates will be about 40 years old, some with children of their own attending Santa Ana schools that will boast well-paid adults, falling test scores, failing infrastructure – and perhaps still laboring beneath hundreds of millions of dollars in repayments on the Great Bond of 2018.
Kelly McGee is a Rhodes College graduate and a journalism intern at California Policy Center.