Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn, which found that it was unconstitutional for individual home health care providers to be forced to pay union dues or fees against their will, SEIU 775 in Washington quietly began ceasing the dues deductions for providers who asked them to do so.
So far, though, the union has made no effort to inform any of the approximately 33,000 individual providers it represents of their constitutional rights. Other than a press statement that called the Harris ruling “the latest in a decades-long attack on the rights of working people” and claimed “it’s unclear how the court’s ruling will impact home care clients and workers in Washington, if at all,” there has been no mention of the ability of providers to choose not to associate with the union on SEIU 775’s website or Facebook page.
On the contrary, a letter recently obtained by the Freedom Foundation indicates the union is actively engaged in trying to persuade individual providers to sign away their constitutional rights.
The letter appears to have been sent to all individual providers not officially members of SEIU 775. Under state law, all individual providers in the state are represented by the union, whether they want to be or not. State law (RCW 41.56.113) also permits the union to have the state deduct a “representation fee” equal to full union dues from all providers by default, even if they have never signed up for official union membership or authorized the deductions.
Under Harris, however, any provider can demand the union cease the deductions (here’s how). Litigation currently underway could force the union to cease the automatic deductions for all providers not officially union members, which is why the union is so desperate to get all nonmembers signed up by whatever means necessary.
The letter contains several deceptive provisions designed to deny providers their constitutional rights under Harris.
Page one, a direct appeal from SEIU 775 President David Rolf, concludes with this plea:
Please join with us and add your name to the thousands of caregivers who are standing with our bargaining team for better care for our clients, and for the professional respect, wages and benefits we deserve. Just fill out the enclosed membership form and return it in the postage-paid envelope.
There is little left for the provider to “fill out”; everything but their signature has been pre-filled by the union. In order to understand what Rolf’s appeal to “[stand] with our bargaining team” actually means, providers will have to read the fine print on page two.
Unsurprisingly, the form authorizes the union to “deduct from my wages all Union dues and other fees or assessments as shall be certified by 775NW…”
More disturbing is the union’s limitation on the ability of providers to rescind the authorization. The fine print specifies that:
“This authorization is irrevocable for a period of one year from the date of execution and from year to year thereafter unless not less than thirty (30) and more than forty-five (45) days prior to the annual anniversary date of this authorization… I notify the Union and my employer in writing, with my valid signature, of my desire to revoke this authorization.”
Translation: Providers have an arbitrary, 15-day window each year during which the union will allow them to exercise their constitutional right to disassociate from the union.
But it gets even worse. The fine print continues:
In addition, in order to build a more powerful Union, and in exchange for obtaining the rights and privileges of becoming a member of SEIU 775NW, I hereby knowingly release both SEIU 775NW and the State of Washington from any future legal claims or liability related to the State’s past collection of agency fees from me pursuant to CBA Sec. 4.1 and/or RCW 41.56.113.
By signing the form, nonmember individual providers, who have had their constitutional rights violated for years by the SEIU’s automatic dues skim “scheme” (the court’s term in Harris), are signing away their ability to take legal action against the union for its unconstitutional actions.
To add insult to injury, the form contains an appeal to “hold politicians accountable to working families” by contributing to the union’s political action committee in addition to paying dues, even though 40 percent of SEIU 775’s regular dues are already spent on political and other nonessential activity.
If SEIU 775 truly wants to seek the best interests of “working families,” it should stop seeking to cheat individual providers out of their constitutional rights to choose for themselves whether to associate with the union.