Every public-sector union member in the country now has the freedom not to join a union, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. Predictably, some unions have resorted to dirty tricks to keep membership dues flowing.
Consider the SEIU 775 in Washington state.
Cindy Ochoa is a home-care provider in Spokane. Homecare providers aren’t employees in the traditional sense. They usually provide home care for a disabled loved one. This arrangement allows individuals with special medical needs to stay in their homes, which is better for them and saves the government money. But several years ago, Democrat governors started deeming these folks employees for the sole purpose of allowing unions such as the SEIU to collect dues from them.
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that home-care providers have the right to opt out of union membership. Last year, the Supreme Court, in the Janus decision, expanded that right to all public employees.
Back to Ms. Ochoa. She left SEIU 775 shortly after the Harris decision. In 2017, however, she noticed the union had resumed collecting dues out of her paycheck. Turns out a union organizer forged her signature after Ms. Ochoa had declined his overtures to sign up.
Ms. Ochoa called and emailed union officials in a attempt to get them to stop illegally stealing her money. It didn’t work. So she eventually turned to the Freedom Foundation, a think tank that specializes in helping workers exercise their opt-out rights. In 2018, The foundation demanded the SEIU stop the dues deduction. The SEIU agreed after acknowledging that the signature on her membership card didn’t match her signature.
Just a few weeks later, however, the union was at it again. It started taking money out of her paycheck for a membership she didn’t want and hadn’t agreed to.
This time, the Freedom Foundation took the SEIU to federal court. Five months later, the labor group agreed to settle. Ms. Ochoa was awarded $15,000, and the foundation recovered $13,000 in legal fees. The leaders of SEIU 775 even promised to send a written apology.
The SEIU’s behavior in the Ochoa case is no doubt an extreme example of unions ignoring established law in order to keep the money flowing to fund the union’s progressive political activism. But less obvious tactics are common. For instance, teachers in Nevada can leave their union by submitting written notice only between July 1 and 15. To leave the union in one California school district, teachers have to submit written notice between 30 and 60 days of the anniversary of their initial signup.
Unions aren’t entitled to dues from employees who don’t want their representation. That unions resort to tactics such as these speaks volumes about their actual allure for many government workers.