California Unions Blocked from Collecting Agency Fees

U.S. Dist. Judge Charles Legge blocked Aug. 8 the California Teachers Ass’n and eight local school districts from collecting union agency fees from nonmembers unless the union and districts report local unions’ expenditures. Legge granted a motion by the National Right to Work Foundation in its lawsuit contesting the forced payment of union dues and CTA’s use of the dues, including political expenditures.

In the suit, Kim Sheffield and seven other teachers sued districts around California, including Los Angeles and South San Francisco. The plaintiffs allege that their rights were violated when the districts continued to collect dues from nonmembers under agreements with the CTA without the locals releasing audited financial disclosure data as required under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union Local 1 v. Hudson. When Hudson notices came out in October 1999, smaller districts continued to assess fees without releasing information about how that money was  spent, the suit alleged.
 
In Apr. 1999, Legge issued an injunction against CTA affiliates in Livermore, Fremont, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, San Jose, and Ukiah. Legge rejected “small-union exception” arguments by the union that disclosure requirements should not apply to small locals. The judge also held that the school districts involved could be liable for collecting the dues.  But NRTW contended that the CTA continued to collect agency fees, fees nonunion employees pay to cover the costs of collective bargaining and grievance adjustment. Each local sets its own amount of agency fees, ranging
from $50 to $250 a year.

Milton Chappell, NRTW attorney, said the locals “would not voluntarily follow the law, and that’s what this case is about. Assuming there may be more cases along this line to attempt to have CTA and its local affiliates follow the law …I hope one of these days we’ll get to the place where people will follow the law.” [BNA 8/10/00]