When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public workers -those paid by any local, state, or federal government agency- cannot be forced to contribute financially to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining agreements, it led to a number of lawsuits against a variety of unions when leaving was either denied or significantly delayed.
A recent lawsuit that has been filed comes from a California mother who is providing care at home for her disabled daughter. She claims that in 2015 she was pressured to accept membership into the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and when she finally requested to leave, her request was denied. In many of these cases, home care providers and others who are seeking to leave unions are being told they can only do so at specific times of the year, and this lawsuit is focusing on the limited revocation policy set forth by the union.
The Associate Press article, Home care aide claims union won’t let her cancel membership, written by Brian Melley and published by the CT Post, noted:
“Polk is among a group of workers paid by Medicaid who provide home care — often to a family member. The payments are made through the state controller’s office and California law allows providers to be considered public employees for union purposes.
Polk said she reluctantly agreed to join SEIU Local 2015 after getting an unsolicited call on a stressful and tiring February day in which her daughter had a psychotic episode. Soon after joining, Polk changed her mind and tried to revoke her membership but was notified she hadn’t done so within a 15-day period and would have to wait nearly a year to do so.
The suit said the telemarketer failed to notify Polk that she had a First Amendment right to decline membership and it challenges the limited revocation policy as unconstitutional.”
According to the woman’s attorney, William Messenger, of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, “It shows how difficult it is to get out (of the union).” He went on to add, “People should be able to exercise that right whenever they choose.”
A representative for the SEIU stated that this legal action was part of an ongoing and ‘coordinated attack’ that is intended to undermine the rights of workers in the United States. The claim of the union is that everyone has the right to choose whether they join, but that they also make commitment for a set and specified period of time. This lawsuit is also seeking to gain class action status for an estimated 180,000 members of the union within the Los Angeles-based chapter.