What happens when a city employee is refused healthcare coverage by her employer and the union? The Freedom Foundation steps in.
That’s just what we did earlier this year in Orange County, Calif., when Brenda (name changed) was denied care coverage by an Orange County city after she chose to opt out of the political portion of her dues.
Cities across California need to be educated on workers rights when it comes to opting out of union dues. The Janus decision is a generational game-changer, but not all cities and government agencies are knowledgeable when it comes to protecting workers. In this case, when Brenda sent in her opt-out letter to the union, the union and the city played ping-pong with her healthcare.
The city dropped Brenda’s coverage, leaving her to pay several thousands of dollars out of pocket while she waited for the snafu to be fixed.
Her patience, however, was rewarded with dutiful negligence, as the union wouldn’t touch her case and city staff couldn’t give her straight answer.
So, she contacted us.
Brenda found the Freedom Foundation online through the OptOutToday.com website and spoke with one of our attorneys, who immediately sent a letter to the city demanding it reinstitute her rights under the conditions of the union’s collective bargaining agreement.
Anyone not a member of their union will still be subject to the terms and conditions of the union’s collective bargaining agreement with their employer. The union still must represent nonmembers in grievances or other proceedings to enforce the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
The only thing agency fee-payers/nonmembers lose is the ability to participate in internal union affairs, like voting in union elections, attending union meetings, etc. There is no other organization like the Freedom Foundation watching out for public employees who wish to leave the union.
When city staff throw their hands up and stonewall these employees, you can tell them that we know what to do.
Brenda not only got her coverage back, but the city reimbursed her fully for the money she spent when her coverage dropped. She’s expressed her gratitude to us and our attorneys, who represented her on a pro bono basis.
Brenda also has another gift coming if the Janus decision goes the way we expect it to on Monday. She’ll receive back the full amount of dues back into her paycheck.
But will the union reimburse her for all the months she was forced to stay on? Let’s just say we’re not holding our breath.