Seven Years Later, SEIU 503 Finally Hands Over Illegally Confiscated Dues

Seven Years Later, SEIU 503 Finally Hands Over Illegally Confiscated Dues

Seven Years Later, SEIU 503 Finally Hands Over Illegally Confiscated Dues

Gloria, an Oregon public employee, first tried to opt out of SEIU 503 in 2012 based on her religious objection to the union’s principles and practices.

And under state law, her request should have been honored. But it wasn’t.

She followed the necessary procedures to the letter, explaining her objections in writing to the union, but she never received any response and dues continued to be deducted from her paychecks.

In fact, the amounts taken represented full union dues in addition to a separate charge for political activities that SEIU 503 takes over and above union dues.

Gloria made a second formal request to resign membership in 2013, with the same result.

Over the next five years, Gloria attempted to get in touch with SEIU 503 repeatedly, but union officials never even acknowledged her efforts.

She called. She wrote. She sent her requests by U.S. mail, fax, email and even delivered a copy in person.

All to no avail.

In June 2018, however, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that allowed all public employees — not just those with religious objections, but everyone — to opt out.

Elated, Gloria sent yet another email to SEIU 503, asking why dues were still being deducted from her paychecks. Again … crickets.

In desperation, Gloria reached out to the Freedom Foundation for help. Its attorneys immediately sent a formal demand letter to SEIU 503 asking for a review of Gloria’s membership status, a copy of any membership card SEIU 503 had for Gloria and reimbursement of the dues wrongfully taken.

While SEIU 503’s initial response was to deny everything, persistence eventually paid off: after two letters from Foundation attorneys, SEIU 503 stopped taking dues from Gloria. After a third letter, they finally reimbursed her for a sizable portion of the dues wrongfully taken from her.

After being stonewalled for seven years, Gloria’s paycheck — all of it — is finally coming to her. If it weren’t for the Freedom Foundation’s intervention, Gloria would still be forcibly subsidizing SEIU 503 against her will and in violation of her deeply held beliefs.

Oregon Litigation Counsel
Rebekah Millard serves as Litigation Counsel in the Foundation’s Oregon Office. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation, Rebekah spent eight years as staff counsel for the Life Legal Defense Foundation in California and Oregon. Her practice focused on First Amendment cases, defending religious freedom and freedom of speech rights. She earned her law degree from Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy in Fresno, California, graduating with honors in 2008. Born and raised in Springfield, Oregon, Rebekah enjoys investing in her local community through frequenting local businesses (dining out and shopping), volunteering for worthy causes, and taking on do-it-yourself projects for home improvement and interior design. She also enjoys entertaining, cooking, and hanging out with family and friends. Rebekah loves to experience other cultures and enjoys frequent trips overseas as well as traveling within the United States. When not traveling, weekends usually find her hiking the Pacific Northwest’s beautiful trails or downhill skiing.