(OLYMPIA, WA) – A Zillah resident on Sept. 29 became the fourth Washington homecare provider to file a lawsuit against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 775, alleging the union forged her signature on a membership form so it could continue collecting regular dues long after she had exercised her right to end her association with it.
Because the forgeries collectively represent a pattern of unlawful behavior by the Union defendants — SEIU local 775 and SEIU International — both are being accused under both the Washington Criminal Prosecution Act and the federal Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
“One bad signature could be explained away as the work of an overzealous or incompetent union operative,” said Sydney Phillips, litigation counsel for the Freedom Foundation, which is representing the plaintiff. “But this is the fourth forgery lawsuit in this state, and we’ve litigated at least a dozen more in Oregon and California. At some point, you have to concede these actions indicate a conspiracy by the unions at the highest level to deny public employees their constitutionally protected right to decline union membership and dues.”
The plaintiff, Kristy Jimenez, is compensated by Medicaid for providing homebased care for three relatives, including her disabled son. The U.S. Supreme Court, in 2014, ruled in Harris v. Quinn that caregivers like her could no longer be compelled to join or pay dues to a labor union.
But SEIU and other unions representing millions of providers around the country, responded by adopting a policy of challenging every single opt-out request in hopes of making the process as painful as humanly possible.
Jimenez requested her freedom in 2019, but the union either ignored or stonewalled her repeated messages. She was told she had signed an electronic dues-authorization form, but when shown a copy of the document, Jimenez immediately recognized the forgery because she wasn’t even living at the listed address when she was alleged to have signed it.
“These aren’t even good forgeries,” Phillips said. “They don’t have to be because the union doesn’t expect any of them to be inspected closely.”
“It’s the same, sad story,” Phillips concluded. “Until very recently, these unions had an absolute monopoly over the government workplace — and a very real sense, the government. They didn’t answer questions because they didn’t have to. But nowadays, things have changed. Workers have the power now to say no to their union, and the unions haven’t accepted it just yet.”