In July 2018, Ms. James and other employees resigned from SEIU, Local 668 by certified mail, and demanded that dues deductions stop immediately. They contacted their employers and obtained return receipts.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public employees have First Amendment rights that unions cannot violate. The Court recently extended those rights by holding in Janus v. AFSCME that nonmembers cannot be forced to pay agency fees for union representation. The Court stated, “[f]orcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning . . . [and c]ompelling a person to subsidize the speech of other private speakers raises similar First Amendment concerns.”
The SEIU insists that it can require employees to remain union members until the end of the current collective bargaining agreement because of a provision of that agreement and Pennsylvania law. But over a decade ago, the current Chief Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania found that someone with a claim like that which the plaintiffs bring here would be likely to succeed because the union’s failure to recognize his resignation violated his constitutional rights.
Defendants have taken and accepted purported union dues from plaintiffs’ and class members’ wages despite the fact that seizures of purported union dues from their wages are against plaintiffs’ and class members’ wills and without their consent.
Megan M. James; William A. Lester; Angela Pease, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated v. Service Employees International Union, Local 668; Steve Catanese, in his official capacity as President of Service Employees International Union, Local 668; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry; W. Gerard Oleksiak, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry; Thomas W. Wolf, in his official capacity as Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Michael Newsome, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Office of Administration; Anna Maria Kiehl, in her official capacities as Chief Accounting Officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Deputy Secretary for the Office of Comptroller Operations
The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.