Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Community College Employees Who Want Out of Union

Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Community College Employees Who Want Out of Union

Lawsuits Filed on Behalf of Community College Employees Who Want Out of Union

Imagine being trapped in an organization you didn’t support, subsidizing beliefs you don’t hold and paying dues every month for the privilege? Then imagine being told this situation would persist for at least another two years in direct violation of your constitutional rights.

That’s exactly the position Kristine Kurk and Dawn Woltkamp find themselves in — to hear their designated labor union tell it, that is.

Both women are community college employees in central California, and both bravely provided notice to their union, the Los Rios Classified Employee Association (LRCEA) of their intent to decline membership and dues payments. Their constitutional right to do just that — with no penalty — was affirmed in June of 2018 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME.

Nonetheless, the union and their employers insist state law requires them to remain union members against their will.

You read that right. The state of California is forcing both women to remain in an organization whose values they do not share and pay dues to support activities that conflict with their values.

Fortunately, the Freedom Foundation understands what frequently gets overlooked in California — state laws do not trump the Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Accordingly, on March 28, 2019, and Feb. 28, 2020, the Freedom Foundation filed lawsuits on behalf of Kurk and Woltkamp, respectively, arguing that LRCEA and the College District violated the First Amendment Rights of both women by requiring them to associate with an organization they did not support and pay dues to fund political speech with which they disagree.

This is just one of the ways that the Freedom Foundation fights on behalf of public employees nationwide. With the help of the Freedom Foundation, public employees have come out against the draconian rules of their unions, which try to trap employees in dues payment schemes that can last years.

They then use those dues to pay for causes that many public employees don’t support.

If Kurk and Woltkamp prevail in their cases, it will send a strong message to the unions and empower millions of public employees nationwide to just say no to union bullying.  And with the Freedom Foundation at their side, Kurk and Woltkamp know they’re in good hands.

Litigation Counsel
Shella Alcabes is a knowledgeable and creative litigator with over ten years of experience in commercial litigation. Ms. Alcabes joined Freedom Foundation because of her love of liberty and to fight for the protection of First Amendment rights. After graduating law school, Ms. Alcabes practiced for several years at one of the country’s preeminent firms, Morrison & Foerster LLP, in Los Angeles, and then made the cross-country move to a boutique litigation and bankruptcy firm in New York. At Morrison & Foerster LLP, Ms. Sadovnik handled multi-million and billion dollar cases including labor disputes with a large grocery store chain and the infamous Apple v. Samsung patent infringement case. She was also responsible for handling all aspects of complex commercial litigation, including conducting trial in Federal Court and drafting and arguing appellate briefs in the California Supreme Court, the Appellate Division of New York and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Alcabes received her B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, where she was on the Loyola Law School Law Review. Ms. Alcabes was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was six years old. She is fluent in Russian, and proficient in both Hebrew and French. In her time off, she enjoys playing peek-a-boo with her toddler and Bar-B-Queuing with her husband.