Union officials violate providers’ First Amendment and statutory rights by refusing to halt deductions of union dues from Medicaid payments
Sacramento, CA (July 15, 2019) – California homecare providers who receive Medicaid payments for serving disabled individuals have filed a class-action lawsuit with free legal aid from attorneys provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff and Washington-based Freedom Foundation. They charge union officials with violating their legal rights by unlawfully restricting them from stopping payment of union dues and fees, as is their right under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Harris and Janus decisions and the Medicaid statute.
The providers’ complaint says United Domestic Workers (UDW) AFSCME Local 3930 union officials coerced them into surrendering their legal rights by signing union membership cards that prohibit them from halting union dues and fees deductions except for a narrow “escape period” a few days every year.
When the providers attempted to exercise their legal rights under Harris and Janus to refrain from financially subsidizing a union and cut off any further dues or fee deductions, union officials refused to honor their requests. Despite the lack of valid consent by providers, the California State Controller, at the behest of AFSCME union officials, continues to deduct union dues from the Medicaid funds intended for providers.
In the class-action suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the providers named as defendants UDW AFSCME Local 3930 and California State Controller Betty Yee. Yee deducts union dues and fees from providers’ Medicaid payments pursuant to state law.
The providers rely on the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Harris and Janus decisions in 2014 and 2018, respectively, both of which were argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys. Harris held that homecare providers cannot constitutionally be compelled to pay union dues or fees as a condition of receiving public funding. Janus established that the First Amendment protects public-sector workers from being forced to pay union dues or fees without their knowing and explicit consent.
While still permitting voluntary unionism, the Janus decision requires union officials to inform public workers of their First Amendment rights and obtain knowing waivers from them before collecting any dues or fees. This requirement invalidates the restrictions on revocation of deduction authorizations union officials enforce through membership cards signed by individuals subjected to public sector unionism.
Because union officials never obtained their consent with knowledge of their rights under Harris and Janus, the providers argue that the restrictions in their dues deduction authorizations are invalid and union officials, thus, are not legally authorized to deduct dues or fees from their hard-earned Medicaid payments. Their complaint asks that the court declare unconstitutional the California statute which authorizes such restrictions.
In addition, the providers’ suit alleges that the deduction of union dues from their Medicaid payments violates a provision of the federal Medicaid statute that prohibits the diversion of Medicaid monies to persons or institutions that are not providing services to disabled individuals.
“Once again union bosses have ignored the clear wishes of the workers they claim to ‘represent’ simply to line their pockets with compulsory dues,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Instead of informing workers of their First Amendment rights and allowing them to choose whether to pay dues to a union voluntarily, union officials nationwide are applying ‘escape periods’ and other coercive tactics to trap workers into paying forced dues against their wishes.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.