LOS ANGELES, Calif. (December 16, 2002) — Union defendants to a civil rights lawsuit filed by Los Angeles County home care providers have agreed to return an estimated $5 million in illegally seized union dues taken from 60,000 non-union home care providers and spent for politics and other non-bargaining activities.
Enjoying free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Carla West and three other home care providers filed the class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 434B, the Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC) of Los Angeles County, and Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
The court recently dismissed arguments that Local 434B’s entire contract with PASC that imposes union affiliation on home care workers who do not desire union representation – and in many cases had never even heard of the union – was unconstitutional. However, in settling other constitutional claims in the home care workers’ civil rights lawsuit, SEIU has agreed to return forced union dues illegally seized from 60,000 workers who were not formal union members.
The union had failed to follow the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers v. Hudson, which requires unions to provide objecting employees an audited disclosure and advance reduction of forced union dues used for politics and other non-bargaining activities. After months of stonewalling, the SEIU produced an audit showing that a mere 48 percent of union dues is spent for collective bargaining.
“Even though the union must now cough up upwards of $5 million in illegally seized dues, the state of California should not have forced independent home care workers into union collectives in the first place,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Years ago, union operatives set their sights on California’s home care subsidy program as a major cash cow. Now California taxpayers must pay tens of millions of dollars that are laundered through the program and dumped into union coffers.”
The AFL-CIO has hailed the forced unionization of the 80,000 home care providers as organized labor’s single largest organizing victory ever. Sacramento and San Diego counties and, more recently, Oregon and Washington State, have since adopted virtually identical schemes.
In 1999, Local 434B officials gained recognition by PASC as the exclusive bargaining agents of home care workers who provide non-medical in-home support services to disabled low-income clients. Although they are reimbursed through the state, the workers are independently hired, fired, and supervised by individual recipients of home care. The constitutionally suspect agreement brokered between union operatives and government bureaucrats declares home care providers are “public employees” for collective bargaining purposes only and has no bearing on hiring, firing, work schedules, workplace safety, and disputes with the employer recipient.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.