Foundation Attacks New California Forced-Dues Law
Sacramento, Calif. - Foundation attorneys have filed the first constitutional challenge against California Governor Gray Davis' new forced-dues law, which hands organized labor $45 million in annual dues to be seized from the paychecks of 75,000 University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) employees.
The major class-action lawsuit is part of the Foundation's ongoing effort to protect California state workers from an epidemic of compulsory unionism abuses at the hands of California Big Labor and Davis, who won the governor's mansion with massive financial backing from union campaign coffers.
Foundation attorneys filed the suit in late January on behalf of CSU employees David Friedman, Marion Smith, and Pat Ames against the California State Employees Association (CSEA) union. After the union puppet governor signed Senate Bill 645 into law last fall, union officials sent a notice to university employees informing them that the state controller would seize forced fees from their wages beginning with their January 2000 paychecks.
When union bosses issued their threat to the employees, the Foundation received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from university employees throughout California expressing outrage over being forced to help bankroll a union they do not want to join or be "represented" by. Pat Ames, an academic facilities coordinator at CSU-Fullerton, summed it up in the Orange County Register, "I will have to pay the CSEA union an amount that will average more than $500 per year. My money will go to an organization I do not support for causes I do not defend."
University employees never wanted union "representation"
During his inaugural address, California Governor Gray Davis pledged an administration that is "tough-minded and big-hearted." Apparently Davis' idea of "tough-minded" is to follow Big Labor's orders to seize forced dues from the paychecks of tens of thousands of California state employees. His idea of "big-hearted" is to hand that cash over to union political operatives who work tirelessly to create bigger government, raise taxes, and wreck job-producing businesses.
Davis' reckless actions are a payoff to union bosses for their contributions to his 1998 bid for governor. During that campaign, he received more than $5 million in PAC contributions and millions more of forced-dues dollars devoted to in-kind contributions from organized labor. The day before he signed this political payoff to union bosses into law, he hobnobbed with John Sweeney and other top AFL-CIO officials at their major national convention in Los Angeles.
This is not the first time that Davis has sold out state employee rights to repay political debts. Last fall, he also signed a monopoly bargaining agreement with the CSEA union seizing forced union dues from tens of thousands of state civil service employees. Foundation attorneys have also filed another lawsuit to stop that illegal seizure of dues.
Davis and Big Labor thumb noses at the Constitution
"As Gray Davis continues to give away the store to Big Labor, the people of California must foot the bill," said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.
In the suit filed by Foundation attorneys, university employees charge that California's forced-fee law clearly violates their First Amendment rights, as established in the Foundation-won case of Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, by explicitly authorizing union officials to seize dues for "lobbying activities." In Lehnert, the court ruled unequivocally that the "State constitutionally may not compel its employees to subsidize legislative lobbying."
Opponents raised the fact that the forced-dues bill is unconstitutional as written during hearings at the California state legislature. Yet despite the bill's obvious flaws, Davis and Big Labor's allies in the legislature knowingly forced the unconstitutional legislation through to its ultimate passage.
That's why victory in this case is so important to the Foundation's long-term legal strategy. By beating the law in court, we establish the principle that union lackeys in political office won't get away with writing laws in conflict with Foundation-won legal precedents.
Adding insult to injury, the forced-fee law also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by requiring university employees to pay for an election to rescind the forced-fee requirement. No other California state or education employees are required to overcome this additional burden.
Gleason, who vowed continued Foundation support to battle Big Labor's money grab in California, praised the courage of state employees who are fighting back. "Big Labor and Gray Davis have launched an all-out attack on the rights of thousands of state employees. Without the brave opposition of these men and women, the California governor would reign unchallenged as Big Labor's bagman."