Court Allows 2,800 California Engineers to Challenge Union Funding of Ballot Initiatives and Politics
Sacramento, Calif. (April 3, 2003) — By certifying a federal suit as a class action, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California this week has allowed more than 2,800 California state employees to challenge the money illegally confiscated for politics and other activities by the Davis Administration and Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) union officials.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed the class-action suit, Hoirup v. PECG, in March 2002 on behalf of Donald Hoirup, who works for the California Department of Conservation California Geologic Survey in Sacramento.
Hoirup filed the complaint on behalf of all non-member government workers under the PECG’s statewide memorandum of understanding (MOU) – also known as a collective bargaining agreement – who have been illegally forced to pay for union political activities. The employees are asking the court to provide the abused workers with retroactive refunds, with interest, on all dues illegally collected since April 1, 2001.
“Union officials are trying to get away with using California state employees as their personal political ATMs,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Rather than actually represent these workers, union operatives simply want them to shut up and pay up.”
The PECG is one of California’s most politically active unions. Union bosses have seized compulsory dues from workers and used them to fund ballot initiatives and other political activities. According to the union’s own records, over three-fourths of PECG’s $8.1 million annual budget for the year 2000 was used for political activities.
On April 1, 1999, then newly elected Governor Gray Davis signed the MOU which forced all workers under the agreement to pay illegally high dues to PECG union officials.
According to the constitutional protections construed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won decisions of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, the union may not collect compulsory dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Politics, lobbying, organizing, public relations, and other non-bargaining activities are explicitly non-chargeable to employees who have exercised their right to refrain from union membership.