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
email@example.com or 847-651-8611
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on 7/13/2018 to include the following RETRACTION: The CSEA (California Schools Employees Association) has provided clarification of actual member dues revenue. The author’s previous assumptions, now known to be erroneous, were that (1) CSEA is a decentralized union meaning that significant dues revenue is retained by local affiliates, and (2) that annual dues revenue was based on 2% of pay instead of the lower 1.5%, and (3) that the maximum allowable dues per year was higher than what is actually the case.
To rectify this, this article now states that total government union revenue in California is at least $800 million per year. That is based on the inaccurate estimate originally made for CSEA’s annual revenue, $159 million, now being reduced to the revenue disclosed by the CSEA on their 990, $67M. This lower annual figure for CSEA, $67M, has been incorporated accordingly into the revised analysis to follow. While the CSEA does have independent affiliates, their revenue is far less than what we assumed, for the reasons stated, and for this overall estimate of all union revenue we are simply leaving that amount out of our calculations.
As explained in the article, it is difficult to accurately compile estimates of total government union dues and memberships, and to do so with the information and resources available requires making reasonable assumptions. If we learn of further erroneous assumptions used to compile any of these estimates, they will be diligently corrected. We regret the error.
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In the wake of the Janus ruling, it is useful to estimate just how much money California’s government unions collect and spend each year. Because government unions publicly disclose less than what the law requires of public corporations or private sector unions, only estimates are possible.
The primary source of information comes from Form 990s that government unions must provide to the IRS each year. Copies of these 990s can usually be found on Guidestar.org; sometimes they are also available on the union websites. While these 990s are useful, to put together reasonably accurate estimates of total government union revenue they require careful analysis and supplemental information from elsewhere. With these limitations noted, here are summary estimates of how much money California’s taxpayers are providing to government unions, who withhold their dues directly from the payroll departments of public agencies.
PUBLIC EDUCATION UNIONS
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2016 there were 422,248 “full time equivalent” teachers employed in California’s K-12 system of public education. In California’s UC and CSU systems of higher education, there were 30,005 faculty instructors. Support staff in the K-12 system numbered 239,726 employees, and in higher education they numbered 40,770 employees.
The largest union focused on K-12 teachers is the California Teachers Association (CTA), easily the largest and most powerful union in California. Their most recent financials, for the year 2015, show declared revenue of $190 million, with $178 million of that declared as dues from members. This, however, greatly understates the power of the CTA.
Not only is the CTA a branch of the nationally focused National Education Association, but the CTA in turn is comprised of local chapters. These local chapters retain a significant share of dues revenue, which they report on their own 990 forms. The CTA chapter United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), for example, declared membership dues of $38.9 million in 2015.
Collecting exact financial data including dues revenue for all CTA chapters would be possible, but not easy. Including the behemoth UTLA, the CTA has 1,100 chapters, plus the California Faculty Association and 42 chapters in the Community College Association. But making a reasonable estimate is possible based on the CTA “Fact Sheet” where they declare a membership of 325,000, combined with the UTLA’s disclosure of their “new dues structure,” wherein full time members pay $1,014 per year.
Based on this information, one may estimate the total annual dues revenue of the CTA and its affiliates at around $330 million per year. While some members may not pay the full dues, which might lower this estimate, the CTA and affiliates have other sources of income including investment income. For example, at the end of 2015 the CTA declared net assets of over $190 million, and the UTLA declared net assets of $28.6 million.
While the CTA is huge, it is not the only union player in California’s system of public education. A much smaller but still very large and powerful teachers union active in California is the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), a branch of the American Federation of Teachers. On their “Who We Are” page, the CFT claims a membership of 120,000, spread over 145 local chapters.
Just as with the CTA, precisely calculating the total dues revenue of the CFT is nearly impossible. Moreover, some of the AFT’s claimed chapters, the UTLA in particular, are actually quasi-independent unions that are affiliated with the CTA and the CFT. But based on their membership claims, and taking into account these complicating factors, a reasonable estimate of the total dues revenue for the CFT and their direct local affiliates is probably around $100 million.
The power of the unions in California’s system of public education doesn’t stop with the CTA and CFT, however. There is also the California School Employees Association (CSEA), claiming membership of 240,000 mostly “classified” (non-instructional) support staff. The CSEA is divided into “Areas” and “Regions” which is their equivalent of local chapters. Their 990 reports a 2015 revenue of $67.2 million.
In summary, subject to the limitations in the available data and what appear to be reasonable assumptions, California’s public education employee unions, the CTA, the CFT, and the CSEA, altogether are probably collecting around $497 million per year.
PUBLIC SAFETY UNIONS
The difficulties inherent in estimating revenue for public education unions are equally present when trying to estimate revenue for public safety unions. The firefighter unions and police unions are for the most part decentralized. The Los Angeles Police Protective League illustrates this point. With revenue in 2016 of $11.6 million. When their membership dues, $10.4 million, is divided by their 9,900 membership, their average dues can be estimated to be $1,152 per year.
Extrapolating this estimate of average dues to the total number of full-time police officers in California, 63,230, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as “Police Protection – Persons with Power of Arrest,” it is reasonable to estimate the California’s total police union dues revenue is around $72.8 million per year. This number could be larger, based on the Public Policy Institute’s recent analysis which states “In 2015 there were more than 118,000 full-time law enforcement employees in California; roughly 77,000 were sworn law enforcement officers (with full arrest powers) and 41,000 were civilian staff.”
Firefighter unions, also decentralized into locals, defy easy compilations of total revenue. A conservative estimate of their average dues would be to assume they are comparable to police union dues, $1,100 per year. According to the CPF website they “claim over 175 IAFF locals as CPF affiliates, serving more than 30,000 paid professional firefighters. ” This is consistent with the U.S. Census data, which estimates “Fire Protection – Firefighters” at 28,907 employees” and “Fire Protection – Other” at 4,182 employees.
Based on these variables, total annual revenue for all affiliates of the California Professional Firefighters union is estimated to be around $33 million per year.
The other public safety union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, appears to be a centralized organization, claiming 39,750 members. Their 990 for 2016 declares total revenue of $29.3 million, This implies an annual dues of $1,088 per year, which is consistent with other unions.
In summary, California’s public safety unions, the CPOA, the CPF, and the CCPOA, along with their local affiliates, altogether are probably collecting around $135 million per year.
OTHER PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS
No survey of California’s government unions is complete without taking a look at three very large and influential unions – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the California State Employee Association (CSEA, not to be confused with the California School Employees Association), and the California Nurses Association.
With these unions as well it is difficult to gather accurate compiled data, because in each case dozens if not hundreds of local affiliates are filing separate 990 forms. AFSCME California, for example, includes the following:
Council 36 – extending across Los Angeles to Orange County to San Diego representing more than 55 autonomous Local Unions whose members work in local government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Council 57 – representing workers in schools and community colleges, transit agencies, public works and services, clinics and hospitals, and water and wastewater facilities throughout Northern California and the Central Valley, as well as the health and social service professionals in corrections facilities across California.
Employees Association of the Metropolitan Water District, Local 1902 – representing the workers of Southern California water districts including accountants, designers, electricians, engineers, environmental specialists, inspectors, IT, mechanics, meter technicians, pipelayers, and PR specialists.
Management and Professional Employees Association of the Metropolitan Water District, Local 1001 – representing the management and professional employees of the the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Healthcare Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) – representing over 29,000 registered nurses and other health care professionals, including optometrists; pharmacists; physical, occupational and speech therapists; case managers; nurse midwives; social workers; clinical lab scientists; physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
United Domestic Workers of America, Local 3930 (UDW) – representing nearly 98,000 in-home support services (IHSS) workers in 21 California counties who take care of Californians with disabilities, the sick, and the elderly.
United EMS Workers, Local 4911 – representing approximately 4,000 private sector emergency medical services (EMS) workers in California whose mission is to raise standards in EMS and protect services for the public.
Union of American Physicians and Dentists, Local 206 (UAPD) – representing doctors working for the State of California, California counties, non-profit healthcare clinics, and in private practice.
University of California Employees, Local 3299 – the University of California’s largest employee union, representing more than 24,000 employees at UC’s 10 campuses, five medical centers, numerous clinics, research laboratories and UC Hastings College of the Law.
Public Employees Union, Local 1 – representing public employees in Contra Costa, West Contra Costa, Merced, Sutter/Yuba, and El Dorado counties.
Calculating the total dues revenue of AFSCME California’s ten major networks of union locals is difficult; precisely estimating their total number of members is impossible to acquire via publicly available information. Based on the information provided on the websites of these locals, total membership can be guessed at. Four of the AFSCME California networks disclose their membership (in italics, above), totaling 155,000. Examining the descriptions of the other six networks suggests a conservative estimate of an additional 45,000 members. Assuming annual dues revenue of $400 per year per member, AFSCME is collecting $80 million per year. That’s probably on the low side.
The California State Employee Association is an agglomeration of three principle unions, the California State University Employees Union with revenue in 2016 of $7.1 million, the Association of California State Supervisors, with 2016 revenue of $3.4 million, and the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000, with 96,000 members and 2016 revenue of $63.2 million. Altogether the unions that comprise the California State Employees Association in 2016 collected revenue of $73.7 million.
Including the California Nurses Association among a survey of public sector unions requires some explanation. It clearly would be inaccurate to claim that all their members work in the public sector. For the purposes of this compilation, we will assume that 25% of them work for public healthcare facilities, based, for example, on their penetration of the UC system healthcare networks and many of California’s county medical centers. The CNA claims membership of 80,000 and for 2016 their 990 declared revenue of $107.8 million.
In summary, California’s other major public sector unions, AFSCME, the CSEA including SEIU Local 1000, and the CNA (est. public sector portion at 25%), along with their local affiliates, altogether are probably collecting around $135 million per year.
Based primarily on publicly disclosed 2016 form 990s along with information obtained from their individual websites, in aggregate, California’s major public sector unions are estimated to be collecting $800 million per year.
Because there are undoubtedly smaller and less visible public sector unions operating in California, this number may be conservative. The number is also possibly understated because when making assumptions, conservative estimates were always applied. This was the done when estimating average membership dues in nearly all cases, and also with respect to total membership.
Editor’s Note – 7/15: Notwithstanding the above, because we have learned new information that required us to revise downwards our assumptions regarding the CSEA’s total revenue (including all local affiliates), we must (1) caution any reader that these numbers are difficult to compile precisely because in California there are many hundreds, if not thousands, of individual local public sector union affiliates all filing separate 990 forms, often including financial transfers between entities that have to be offset in any thorough analysis – a nearly impossible task, and (2) upon learning of them, we will diligently correct any further wrong assumptions remaining in this analysis.
California’s Public Sector Unions (including local affiliates)
Estimated Total Membership and Revenues
It would go beyond the scope of this analysis to speculate as to what impact the recent Janus ruling will have on government union membership and revenues, or to ponder the degree and kind of political influence of the three major blocks of unions; teachers, public safety, and public service.
It is relevant, however, to emphasize that the reach of these unions, because many of them are highly decentralized, extends to the finest details of public administration, into the smallest local jurisdictions. When recognizing the profound statewide impact of public sector union political agenda, it is easy to forget that fact, and the implications it carries for virtually every city, county, special district, or school district in California.
Ed Ring co-founded the California Policy Center and served as its first president.
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