SEIU officials’ “window period” policy traps provider into supporting union after unsolicited telemarketer pressured provider into forced dues
Sacramento, CA (November 2, 2018) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have filed a class action complaint challenging a union scheme to violate the rights of California homecare providers. The complaint challenges union officials’ “window period” policy that blocks the provider from exercising her constitutional right to refrain from financially supporting a union, despite the fact that she only became a member under pressure during an unsolicited phone conversation.
Delores Polk, who provides home healthcare to her daughter, is not a voluntary member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015. However, an SEIU telemarketer called her and read Polk the terms of the local union’s membership and dues deduction authorization. Pressured by the unsolicited phone call, Polk reluctantly agreed to join.
Polk notes in her complaint that she was not notified of her First Amendment rights, protected by the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision Janus v. AFSCME, to refrain from joining or subsidizing SEIU Local 2015 and did not sign any written documentation agreeing to be a union member or waiving her First Amendment rights.
Days after the phone call, Polk researched SEIU Local 2015 and realized she did not want to financially support the organization, as doing so does not reflect her values and also for financial reasons. Polk called SEIU Local 2015 and told them she did not want to be a union member and did not consent to union dues deductions. However, in a letter sent after her phone call, SEIU officials claimed that Polk had missed the “window period” to cut off payments and could not opt out for another year, and then only through written notice.
Despite her lack of consent, the California State Controller, at the behest of SEIU Local 2015, continues to deduct union dues from the Medicaid funds Polk receives to care for her daughter. The State Controller and SEIU Local 2015 officials also continue to enforce their “window period” policy against other providers.
Polk came to Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid in filing her class action complaint against SEIU Local 2015 and the State Controller of California. Polk’s charges allege that the “window period” policy violates her constitutional right to refrain from paying union dues or fees.
Under the Foundation-won Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn decision, Polk and homecare providers across the country cannot be forced to pay union fees without their consent. The 2014 ruling declared unconstitutional an Illinois scheme that classified individual homecare providers as “public employees” so they could be unionized by the SEIU and forced to pay union dues. Furthermore, in Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court affirmed that it is unconstitutional for union dues and fees to be collected without an individual’s affirmative consent and clear, knowing waiver of their First Amendment rights.
The complaint requests that the court certify a class including all home healthcare providers who have been forced to pay union dues even after notifying the State Controller or SEIU Local 2015 officials that they do not consent to financially supporting the union.
“Ms. Polk’s case shows that union officials will ignore the clear wishes of the workers they claim to ‘represent’ simply to line their pockets with coerced fees,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union officials have a long history of manipulating ‘window period’ rules, arbitrary union-enacted limitations on ending dues payments, and other obstacles designed to block individuals from exercising their constitutional rights. Although the Foundation’s victories in Harris and Janus provide important protections, a clear ruling is needed to put an end to these union bosses’ abusive practices.”
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.