On November 1, 2005, plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Civil Rights Act against the State of California in the Eastern District of California. Plaintiffs, represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Inc. and other private counsel, sought immediate injunctive and declaratory relief, and damages, claiming that the defendant violated public employees' rights, privileges, and immunities under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that the defendants did not follow the procedural safeguards as compelled by Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, 475 U.S. 292 (1986) before deducting monies from employees' pay checks to put toward political activities.
The case was assigned to Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. and referred to Magistrate Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. Judge England issued an order granting the plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order on November 3, 2005. Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction on November 2, 2005 was denied by Judge England on November 9, 2005.
On October 31, 2006, Judge England certified a class consisting of individuals who pay compulsory fees to CSEA who are not members and who have, at one time or another, specifically objected to the use of their agency fees for politics or other non-bargaining activities. Plaintiffs represent two classes of nonunion employees, those who objected to the Union's notification to deduct money for non-bargaining purposes and those who did not.
The dispute is over a relatively simple question: Did the defendant's first notice to employees, regarding the additional union deduction, provide an adequate explanation of the basis for the fee? Judge England explains that the first notice was more of an overview in which the Union described the prior year's financials rather than the legitimacy of the new deduction, which was not to be utilized for Union operations. The Union took the position that nonunion employees had already been given an opportunity to make an informed decision as to the additional deduction of money for political purposes, when it really had not.
Judge England stated that the first notice could not possibly have supplied the essential information with which nonmembers could make an informed choice of whether or not to object to the deduction, and issued the Memorandum and Order granting the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on March 27, 2008. The Union was ordered to issue a proper notice as to the deductions for political purposes, with a renewed opportunity for nonmembers to object to paying the non-chargeable portion of the fee and to issue appropriate refund with interest. Judge England ordered a second notice not because the first notice could not conceivably cover any assessment or dues increase, but because the actual notice in this case was inadequate to provide the essential information regarding the specific deduction for political purposes.
Defendants submitted their Amended Notice of Appeal on August 26, 2008. The defendants in the district court were denied summary adjudication as to the class of non-objectors, and the docket was filed on November 1, 2005. The appellate case was argued and submitted in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges J. Clifford Wallace, David R. Thompson and Sidney R. Thomas) on October 9, 2009. As of June 29, 2010, no opinion had been issued.Jenna Chai - 06/14/2010