State Lifeguards Battle Law Enforcement Association, State in Union Dispute
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect that the plaintiffs are state lifeguards.
By C. Jayden Smith
State rescuers, some of whom live and work in San Clemente, are in the midst of an active lawsuit against the state and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) regarding allegations of being forced to pay union dues against their will.
More recently, the group filed a motion asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case. bench– meaning all the judges in court would hear it – after a court panel, in an unpublished opinion, upheld a lower court’s ruling that rescuers ‘didn’t make a statement. ‘plausible allegation’.
The lifeguards’ class action lawsuit filed in May 2020 alleged that the union violated workers’ First Amendment rights by limiting their ability to resign as members of the association for a certain period and not pay the full contributions.
“Based on information and beliefs, the State and CSLEA will continue to force lifeguards who remain employed by the State to remain full members of CSLEA until at least June 2023,” the recent explained. legal record of the rescuers.
However, the filing continued, the district court dismissed the group’s constitutional claims “for failure to report.” Last February, the case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit, where a panel of judges later upheld the previous court’s decision.
The committee’s decision further stated that the court’s 2020 ruling in Belgau v. Inslee retained. In that case, the Ninth Circuit committee upheld a district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit that asserted that the deduction of union dues from paychecks was unconstitutional. The court ruled that the involuntary deduction was not mandatory and that “the First Amendment does not support the right of a union member to renege on his promise to join and support the union.”
Further, the notice stated that the plaintiffs’ assertion that the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCMEwhich held that states and unions cannot compel nonmembers to subsidize union speaking, did not apply because lifeguards remained union members and do not officially hold nonunion status.
Additionally, the decision stated that lifeguards will continue to be bound by the requirements of their membership application despite the denial of union benefits; that rescuers were not required to join; that the contract which bound them to the maintenance of the condition of affiliation in question was not ambiguous; and the requirement, under a private agreement, is not invalidated by the First Amendment.
“Belgium necessitates this conclusion,” the document read. “There are no meaningful distinctions between this case that persuade us that a different outcome is warranted.”
The Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit think tank that fights unions for workers’ rights, represented the rescuers along with Bill Messenger of the National Right to Work Foundation. He recently joined the lawsuit to help file the latest petition.
The petition makes three main points: that the panel’s opinion is in fact at odds with janusholding state action of opinion conflicts with janus and other Seventh Circuit precedents, and that the opinion permitted a severe restriction of First Amendment rights, thereby validating a bench audience.
Maintaining membership agreements, as well as “equitable cost-sharing” agreements, are authorized by state law to require employees to financially support a union and require all who are or become members remain members for the duration of the agreement.
janusdecided in June 2018, also ruled that union payments cannot be deducted from the pay of nonmembers unless they consent to pay, because employees who consent, in turn, waive their First Amendment rights.
Costume lifeguards reportedly resigned from CSLEA membership in September 2019, just after CSLEA and the state reached an agreement to continue membership effective from July 2019 through July 2023, requiring members to pay full dues for the full term.
However, the petition argues that none of the lifeguards who originally signed up for membership between 2004 and 2019 signed a form stating they agreed to remain a member for the duration of a collective bargaining agreement and that the state will continue. to force them to stay on their own. dues-paying members despite their objections.
Rescuers further argued that enforcing payment of dues to employees who oppose the union forces employees to subsidize union speaking, in the form of political actions to try to influence the government, according to Messenger. Such coercion violates a principle held in Harris v. Quinn in 2014 that no person in America can be forced to subsidize the speech of a third party they do not wish to support.
The harm caused by maintaining membership conditions exceeds the requirement janus ruled unconstitutional, according to the argument. The full union dues subtracted from dissident and forced employees are greater than the reduced union dues of non-union employees in janus paid.
The argument also went on to hold that the opinion of the Ninth Circuit panel was erroneous that janus was unenforceable and that the lifeguards had contractually consented to the membership requirement.
“This reasoning serves no purpose because the state and CSLEA are illegally compelling lifeguards to remain union members despite their notices to resign,” the argument reads.
Wording in the signed dues withholding form that states limits on when employees can opt out of membership “in accordance with Unit 7’s contract and state law” supports the rescuers’ position that which their rights to cease association with CSLEA are limited, according to the argument, and makes clear that the limitation results from an agreement involving the state.
“A vague reference to the ‘Unit 7 contract and state law’ does not clearly establish knowledge of or assent to the requirement of continued membership at issue here,” argued the complainants. “Indeed, this requirement was concluded in July 2019, years after most lifeguards signed dues withholding forms.”
They also said the state and CSLEA cannot prove that the rescuers waived their rights, because there was no evidence the rescuers knew of their First Amendment rights, and the panel did not proceed to an analysis of the waiver under janus. Supporting their case, any existing waivers would be unenforceable due to the unconscionable nature of a four-year ban on employees exercising their rights under janus.
The argument claimed that the Ninth Circuit distinguished janus from Belgium case in that the first involved a state requiring employees to subsidize a union under an agency fee requirement, and the other did not involve a private agreement regarding a restriction on when employees could stop dues deductions found only in their deduction forms.
A request of bench the review stands in this case because the panel “approved of a gross violation of First Amendment freedoms,” the rescuers’ motion argued.
With membership terms remaining that employees can quit by sending a signed withdrawal letter within 30 days of a contract expiring, the argument called this part “draconian.”
“The panel upheld a type of union security agreement that was not only unconstitutional under janus but would be unconstitutional even under the statute that preceded januswe therefore believe that this conflict with the authority of the Supreme Court justifies a request for a rehearing bench“said Messenger.
A majority of active Ninth Circuit judges would have to vote to grant such a rehearing, and a small panel of those judges would hear the case due to the high number of judges, according to Messenger.
“All we can do is put bread on the water,” he added. “I don’t like to predict, in the end, what the court will do. I think we made a strong case and the best we can do is hope the court accepts it.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism at the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothers his black lab named Shadow.
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