Lost in the press storm surrounding Janus v. AFSCME is a group of public employees who’ve had the right to not financially support a labor union since June 2014—four years before Janus.
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn ruled that public employers and unions cannot assess agency fees to partial-public employees like Washington’s homecare providers, referred to as “individual providers.”
After Harris, public employers and their campaign-buddy unions in Washington immediately went to work undermining individual providers’ newly acknowledged right.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the providers’ state-appointed exclusive representative, SEIU 775, also decided to automatically make every provider a union “member” even without their consent.
Inslee and SEIU 775 then imposed on all 35,000 providers an opt-out scheme that subjected providers to automatic union dues deductions even without their consent, notwithstanding their constitutional right to not pay union dues.
Thus, for the past four years, Inslee has been deducting dues from non-consenting providers and forwarding them to SEIU 775, ensuring his union allies could continue to rake in millions of dollars—which SEIU 775 can contribute back to Inslee, of course.
To rectify these wrongs, last week the Freedom Foundation filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington a class-action lawsuit on behalf of four providers seeking the repayment of money illegally seized from providers.
The plaintiffs and class members all had a portion of their wages illegally seized by Inslee and SEIU 775 without their consent. The lawsuit, Schumacher, et al., v. Inslee, et al., Case No. 3;18-cv-5535, was filed because Inslee and SEIU 775 illegally deducted money from hundreds, perhaps thousands, of providers—all of whom are entitled to the return of their hard-earned money.
Washington state grants SEIU 775 the privilege of exclusively representing providers. Instead of prioritizing the providers’ interests ahead of its own coffers, however, SEIU 775 abused its state-appointed privilege by taking money from providers without their permission and spending it on all kinds of political advocacy.
And Inslee is just as guilty of abusing providers as SEIU 775 is.
Even without Janus, Inslee and SEIU 775 violated providers’ rights by conspiring to deprive providers of their hard-earned money.
Inslee and his bureaucratic minions outsourced to SEIU 775 the state’s responsibility to protect providers’ rights. According to SEIU 775’s collective bargaining agreement with the state, only the union is authorized to notify providers of their rights. Further, only SEIU 775 decides which providers pay union dues and which do not.
You heard that right.
The state of Washington cannot notify providers of their rights, and the state refuses to listen to providers who object to the payment of union dues, instead listening only to SEIU 775 when determining from whom to deduct union dues.
It’s no coincidence SEIU 775 is the party least interested in providers learning of their rights or exercising them.
Inslee’s and SEIU 775’s scheme reeks of corruption.
This lawsuit has the potential to rectify years’ worth of illegal wage seizures and to ensure SEIU 775 and Jay Inslee do not profit from the abuse they heaped on providers.