Teacher Sues L.A. Union for Illegal Dues Skimming

‘Despite what union bosses say, workers’ constitutional rights cannot be limited to just 30 days out of the year…’

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against LA Teachers’ Union for Illegal Dues Skimming

Members of the UTLA, the Los Angeles teachers’ union, during a strike in January 2019/IMAGE: CBS This Morning

(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) A Los Angeles public-school teacher is challenging the city’s powerful teachers’ union over an alleged illegal scheme to skim dues from teacher paychecks without their consent.

Aided by a California state law, the United Teachers Los Angeles, or UTLA, has been deducting unauthorized union dues from teachers who have opted out of UTLA membership.

The unauthorized deductions are in direct violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Janus decision last year, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is providing free legal representation in the case.

The Janus ruling freed government employees from mandatory union membership, in addition to barring compulsory dues and fees from non-union members as a condition of employment. Mark Janus himself was an Illinois state worker who objected to his forced union dues being spent on left-wing political activities.

But the Los Angeles teachers’ union has forced non-UTLA teachers to pay-up anyway, through a so-called “window period” provision.

The scheme allows dues and fees to be collected from non-union teacher paychecks if they fail to ask UTLA officials not to do so in writing. But the union only accepts dues opt-out letters within a 30-day window period.

Public school teacher Irene Seager filed her class-action lawsuit in federal court Wednesday.

Seager became a UTLA member in April 2018, and was forced to sign a dues-deduction authorization from at the time. She was given the choice of joining the union and paying, or not joining the union and paying.

Two months later, in June 2018, the Janus decision was issued and Seager promptly resigned her UTLA membership.

However, the union did not inform her about its window-period policy, and union officials continued seizing her membership dues.

If successful, Seager’s lawsuit would not only strike down California’s window-period scheme, but it would also require backpay for thousands of other teachers.

“Ms. Seager’s case shows that union bosses are willing to trample on the First Amendment rights of the teachers they claim to ‘represent’ to keep their forced-dues power,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

“Despite what union bosses say, workers’ constitutional rights cannot be limited to just 30 days out of the year,” Mix said.