Officials from SEIU 721 approached Los Angeles County employee Anna Aguirre earlier this year and told her she needed to sign a card to update her information, including her death benefits.
Anna wanted to make sure her children were listed as beneficiaries on her life insurance policies, so she signed the card.
Unfortunately for Anna, the card was actually a SEIU 721 membership card – one that locked her into paying union dues until an arbitrary exit window temporarily opened.
Not only did Anna not know she was signing a membership card, she was never informed that union membership was optional.
This past January, Anna sent a letter to SEIU 721 objecting to union membership and the dues deductions.
A few days later, she got word from the union president that her letter had been received, but SEIU 721 intended to keep right on seizing her dues until she sent a letter during the opt-out window detailed on her membership card.
Except she didn’t have her membership card. And when she sought a copy, her request was ignored.
Anna responded by letter, reiterating her objection to union membership and the dues deductions. She explained that union representatives told her she needed to sign the membership application to update her information. She was unaware the union considered the form to be a new contract that changed her rights and responsibilities and held her to an irrevocable dues scheme.
On Jan. 29 and 30, the union responded with two additional copies of the same letter she had bent sent earlier in the month. Once again Anna was informed she could not stop the dues deductions until the date prescribed on her membership card, but she wasn’t given a copy of her membership card to know when that date might be.
SEIU 721 finally sent her card in March, and it stipulated she could only cancel the dues deductions within a 15-day window before the anniversary of when she signed the card. But to complicate matters further, the contract between her employer and the union says she can only cancel dues deductions during the 21-day period preceding her date-of-hire anniversary.
Freedom Foundation attorneys filed a lawsuit on July 23, on Anna’s behalf, and the parties recently reached a mutually agreeable settlement.