State Employees (SEIU Non-members aka “Fair Share Fee Payers”), Filed A Class Action Lawsuit Against SEIU Local 1000 in US District Court For The Eastern District Of California.

The lawsuit would force the union to stop requiring Fair Share Fee payers to file for Non-Germane Objector status annually.  Effectively, converting the current “Opt-out” process, into an “Opt-in” process.

Hamidi v. SEIU Local 1000, Case # 2:14-at-00129, Filed On 01/31/14

On January 31, 2014, Ken Hamidi, President of CPPEA, and seventeen other California state employees, have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of an estimated 42,000 SEIU Local 1000 Fair Share Fee payers.  The class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court against the SEIU Local 1000, with the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation (NRTW) staff attorneys.

The lawsuit challenges the union’s policy of requiring SEIU non-members (aka Fair Share Fee payers), to repeatedly submit “Non-Germane Objector” (NGO) forms annually,  officially objecting to paying for SEIU expenditures not related to collective bargaining and instead asks that the SEIU seek employees’ permission before deducting union dues for political activism, and other Non-Germane activities. This would effectively convert the current annual “Opt-out” process, into an “Opt-in” process.

The lawsuit builds on a landmark, NTRW Foundation-won Supreme Court decision from 2012. In Knox v. SEIU Local 1000, the Supreme Court held for the first time that a union should not have collected dues for a political spending campaign without non-members’ affirmative consent.

Although non-member Fair Share fee payers have the right to opt out of paying for the expenditures unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union political activism, and other ideological campaigns, SEIU Local 1000 requires Fair Share fee payers to object to those payments every year.  The lawsuit seeks to shift that burden from employees, whose paychecks and rights are at stake, to union officials, who would then be required to seek nonmember fee payers’ permission before collecting full dues.

The lawsuit notes that SEIU 1000’s current policy – which requires nonmember Fair Share fee payers to object to union non-germane spending – effectively rigs the game in favor of the union.  Although Fair Share fee payers are supposed to receive notices informing them of their rights to opt-out of paying for union non-germane expenses, several of the plaintiffs complain they have never received such notices. Other Fair Share Fee payers were only notified after the annual window to opt-out had already expired.

The Plaintiffs also argue that the Union purposely creates obstacles by changing the requirements every year in order to make the “Opt-out” process for Fair Share Fee payers cumbersome, and for some nonmembers, they make it impossible to opt out.