Supreme Court Agrees with National Right to Work Foundation Attorneys Representing California State Employees: Strikes Down SEIU Scheme to Force Nonunion Employees to Fund Union Political Fund

In 2005, the California State Employees Association (CSEA) union, a local affiliate of the SEIU, imposed a "special assessment" on every civil servant in its bargaining unit to pay for a campaign to defeat several California ballot initiatives. CSEA officials collected money from all employees to pay for union political activism, including those who were not union members. In 2007, a federal district court ruled that the CSEA was required to provide a notice to nonunion employees about the assessment, allow them to opt-out of paying into the union political fund, provide a refund of monies spent on union politics, and pay interest from the dates of the deductions to nonmembers who chose to opt out. After CSEA lawyers appealed the case, a Ninth Circuit panel reversed that decision in December 2010. On June 27, 2011, the United States Supreme Court announced it would review the Ninth Circuit’s ruling. The Court then struck down the scheme in a precedent-setting ruling issued on June 21, 2012. The Court’s majority ruled for the first time that government union officials must obtain affirmative consent from workers before using workers’ forced union fees for union politicking.

Below, you’ll find links to relevant legal documents, Foundation news releases, and notable media coverage. 


Supreme Court Strikes Down SEIU Scheme to Force CA Nonunion State Employees to Fund Union Politics (6/21/2012)

California State Employees Lay Out Class-Action Lawsuit before Supreme Court (9/14/2011)

Supreme Court to Review Ninth Circuit Ruling that Forces Nonunion Workers to Fund Union Political Activism (6/27/2011) 


Petition for writ of certiorari

CSEA brief in opposition to Supreme Court granting certiorari

Reply to CSEA brief in opposition to granting certiorari

Petitioners’ brief on the merits of the case

CSEA’s brief on the merits of the case

CSEA’s motion to dismiss

Petitioners’ response to motion to dismiss

CSEA’s reply

Pacific Legal Foundation’s amicus curiae brief in support of the petitioners

Transcript of oral arguments


SCOTUSblog’s Knox page

"Unions and Forced Political Speech,"National Review, 7/1/2011

"Government employees’ free speech on trial," Washington Times, 1/9/2012