Freedom Foundation puts California unions on the defensive

Freedom Foundation puts California unions on the defensive

Freedom Foundation puts California unions on the defensive

In the coming weeks, Freedom Foundation attorneys representing public-sector workers free of charge will argue three cases in federal court in the Central District of California.

These cases represent not only novel legal issues on the cutting edge of post-Janus litigation, but disturbing facts that should give every freedom-loving Californian pause:

  • Espinoza v. UAPD, et al.:

Dr. Robert Espinoza, a physician at the Chino Institution for Men, signed a union membership and dues’ authorization card in 2018. But fed up with the union’s shady dealings, Espinoza sent the union a letter withdrawing his consent for future deductions. He was personally assured by the lawyer for the union that the deductions would cease.

Only it didn’t. Instead, UAPD continued for another six months with neither his contractual authorization nor affirmative consent as required by the First Amendment.

Adding insult to injury, the union and state defendants took an additional $16.00 from each of Espinoza’s paychecks for the union’s “Political Action Program,” which then spent his money on partisan political races and issues across the state.

These deductions should have ceased immediately when Espinoza made clear he did not agree. Instead, they continued for an entire year.

  • Deering v. IBEW 18, et al.:

Christopher Deering has been a customer service representative for the city of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power since 2005. The authorization Deering signed in 2005 did not restrict his ability to end his membership or the dues’ deductions. All he was required to do was send the union a “signed writing” canceling the authorization.

Tired of the union using his money for its own political pet projects, Deering sent a letter and withdrew his consent. But union officials informed him IBEW would continue taking his money over for another eight months, citing a “window period” not contained his actual agreement.

Even worse, the union continued to take an additional $15 from each of Deering’s paychecks to fund the speech and activities of something called the “Joint Safety and Training Institute,” a questionable trust fund set up and jointly operated by the city and union, and in a previous iteration, suspected of misusing funds for the personal benefit of the trustees.

  • Bourque v. EAA, et al.:

Even worse than the situation in Espinoza and Deering, police department employee Camille Bourque never signed a membership or dues’ authorization card with the union. But for almost three years the union took her money and spent it on politics anyway, even after she submitted a letter making clear that she did not consent to these activities.

Another plaintiff in the case, airport employee Peter Morejon, did sign an agreement with the union. But like Deering, this card did not restrict his ability to end his relationship with the union at any time. And in a pattern that becomes all the more disturbing, the union simply ignored Morejon’s repeated requests to end the deductions and took and spent his money on objectionable political speech for four more months.

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The above cases exemplify not only the continuing vital work of the Freedom Foundation in California, but also the important stakes. If government unions and their state and local cronies can use the force of state law to take employees’ money without permission, ignore a Supreme Court case, and give the money to partisan politicians, then we are facing more than novel lawsuits.

We are facing a constitutional crisis.

Litigation Counsel
Tim Snowball is a civil rights attorney with Freedom Foundation, where his practice is focused on protecting the First Amendment rights of government workers to make their own decisions about whether to join or support public sector unions. In addition to his legal practice, Tim is an advocate for education in the areas of American government, constitutional history, and the Rule of Law. To this end, he has participated in hundreds of media interviews, written viral op-eds and blog posts, and regularly delivers speeches and other presentations to groups across California. Tim is also a part-time coach for UC Davis School of Law’s Mock Trial Program, where he teaches students the ins and out of trial practice, and has successfully lead teams to national competitions for the past three years. Tim received a JD from the George Washington University Law School, a BA in American Politics and Government from UC Berkeley, and an AA in Political Science from Grossmont College. At GW, Tim served as Notes Editor on the Federal Circuit Bar Journal, Coach on the Mock Trial Skills Board, and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award and Pro Bono Service Award for volunteering over 500 hours of pro bono service. When not fighting to protect the First Amendment, you can find Tim with his nose stuck in a book, working out, watching movies, or spending time with family and friends.