In its ongoing fight to free government workers from tyranny, the Freedom Foundation is representing yet another individual who has had his rights trampled on by the union that claims to be representing his interests.
William Swails, who lives about 50 miles east of the Cascade Mountains, provides full-time care for his sister in addition to working another part-time job.
Following the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus, declaring that unions had no right to collect dues from public employee’s hard-earned wages without his or her consent, Swails contacted his local union, SEIU 775, and requested his freedom from the union and its dues.
That was when Swails realized SEIU was breaking the law. Union officials informed Swails he had verbally authorized a union membership card that locked him into paying union membership dues for one year.
The union insists on attempting to enforce this invalid authorization, despite the fact that Washington State law clearly states that a union must obtain written authorization to take dues out of an employees’ paycheck – not mere voice approval of a complicated form the employee may not even understand.
Swails never intended to sign a union membership card, and was led to believe he was simply updating his health insurance information, when in fact SEIU 775 was attempting to illegally sign him up as a member.
The Freedom Foundation has taken up Swails’ case, filing an unfair labor practice complaint with the Washington State Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC). Freedom Foundation attorneys have already prevailed on some preliminary issues, and have high hopes for the actual hearing.
For example, due to the full-time care his sister requires, it’s already a strain for Swails to participate in a full, two-day hearing before PERC. However, when presented with a request to move the hearing from PERC’s headquarters in Olympia to a more convenient location for Mr. Swails in eastern Washington, SEIU 775 refused this reasonable accommodation.
The union even had its attorney baldly accuse the Freedom Foundation of wanting to use the format of the hearing to feed answers to Mr. Swails.
Needless to say, the hearing examiner rejected this desperate attempt at character assassination, and decided the issue in Swails’ favor, ruling that the hearing would take place in Yakima (and, effectively that the union would have to pay its attorney for a few hours of travel time).
More importantly, the union showed the hearing examiner, in advance of the final hearing, the desperate lengths it will travel to avoid recognizing public employees’ statutory and constitutional rights.
The Freedom Foundation will continue to fight for the rights of William Swails, as well as all other public-sector employees being prevented from exercising their First Amendment rights by the unions that claim to act in their best interests.
To those paying attention, the most recent behavior on the part of SEIU 775 demonstrates exactly where their loyalties lie – not with the employees they represent, but the bank accounts that depend on the wages of those employees.