San Diego, Calif. (November 7, 2003) — With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, two San Diego city employees have moved to block San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA) union officials from imposing mandatory union dues on local government workers through a mail-in ballot election, scheduled just after the union’s chief method of compelling employees to join the union was found to be illegal.
Simultaneously filing charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) and State Mediation and Conciliation Service (SMCS), police criminologist Tanya DuLaney and public information clerk Juanita Torres allege that MEA union officials have illegally promised to lower dues if the union institutes a forced-dues clause into its contract with the city. The charges also state that the “MEA and the City’s unremedied unfair labor practice taints the election process,” because a PERB administrative law judge recently found the union and employer are discriminating against nonmembers by denying them eye and dental coverage.
“MEA union officials are using this election as a last-ditch effort to corral San Diego public employees into union ranks,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Without the ability to illegally withhold benefits paid for by the employer, the union knows that many employees will have no use for the union and therefore resign and withhold financial support. This is an attempt to take away that option.”
DuLaney’s charges come on the heels of the City of San Diego’s decision to drop its appeal to the full PERB to uphold the union’s discriminatory health policy. A United States District Court decision also recently rejected an MEA union attempt to dismiss a federal action against the union for violating the First Amendment freedom of association rights of nonmembers.
The health benefits scheme, part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the union and the city, was designed to pressure employees into signing up as formal union members, thereby causing them to give up certain rights, including the ability to refrain from funding union political activities.
Mail-in ballots were sent to city workers in mid-October. The outcome of the election would affect more than 3,000 San Diego public employees.