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So Cal Lifeguards Petition US Supreme Court over Scheme Trapping Employees in Union Membership

Lifeguards have been trapped in union membership since 2019

By Katy Grimes, September 8, 2022 3:41 pm

In May the Globe reported that Orange County California lifeguard Jonathan Savas and 22 colleagues sued the State of California and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) labor union for violating their First Amendment right to abstain from forced union membership and compelled financial support.

They filed an application for a rehearing of their federal civil rights lawsuit before an en banc (all judges) panel of judges of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The restrictions will trap the lifeguards in union membership, along with full dues payments for almost four years after they opted out of union, we reported.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix told the Globe the case appeared to be an extraordinarily wrong decision by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit. Mix said the panel not only ignored the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision Janus v. AFSCME, but also the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. “The conditions have been illegal for decades,” Mix explained. “This case with fact patterns going back past Abood saying they must maintain membership in the union and pay dues, is really extraordinary: Janus didn’t matter, and Abood didn’t matter” to the Ninth Circuit three judge panel.

Savas and the other plaintiffs sent messages resigning their union memberships and ending dues authorizations back in September 2019, but union officials denied their requests, alleging they must remain full members until 2023 or be fired. Despite Janus, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this requirement does not violate the First Amendment.

Now, the National Right to Work Foundation reports Savas and his Southern California colleagues have just submitted a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court in their case challenging the California Statewide Law Enforcement Agency labor union officials’ “maintenance of membership” scheme, which has trapped Savas and his colleagues in union membership and full dues payment until 2023, four years after they tried to resign from the union, NRWF said.

The lifeguards argue the union-created scheme violates their rights under the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision, as they argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges.

In Janus, the Court declared that public sector workers cannot be forced to bankroll a union without voluntarily waiving their First Amendment right to abstain from union payments. Janus was won by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, who also represent Savas and his coworkers.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said the scheme “erases not only the protections against all forced dues payments provided by Janus, but even older rulings that forbade union officials from forcing full union membership and payment for union political activities on public workers.”

National Right to Work Foundation explains more about the petition:

Savas’ petition also slams the Ninth Circuit’s failure to apply the Supreme Court’s “waiver” test to CSLEA’s “maintenance of membership” restriction. Janus dictated that union dues can only be deducted from a public employee’s paycheck if that employee gives a “clear and compelling” waiver of Janus rights. Foundation attorneys point out that the CSLEA union’s dues deductions forms contained only a “vague reference” to the “maintenance of membership” restriction. The Ninth Circuit erroneously believed that was enough to satisfy Janus requirements.

“A vague reference to unspecified limitations in ‘the Unit 7 contract and State law’ does not establish the Lifeguards contractually consented” to become and remain union members for four years,” the petition says.

“Public sector employees have been leaving their government employee unions in droves when they learn they have the right to do so,” explained Freedom Foundation attorney Rebekah Millard. “These California unions are employing tactics to entrap people in the union, forcing them to keep paying dues against their will. It is time for the Supreme Court to step in and affirm the First Amendment rights laid out in Janus.”

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7 thoughts on “So Cal Lifeguards Petition US Supreme Court over Scheme Trapping Employees in Union Membership

  1. My sense is that the lifeguards will have to get their case out of the 9th Circuit and take it to SCOTUS to get justice.

  2. Some So Cal lifeguards seem to be doing very well financially? An audit found that 98 lifeguards in Los Angeles County made at least $200,000 with benefits and 20 earned between $300,000 and $510,283. LA County lifeguards allowed to retire at age 55 with 79% of their compensation after they’ve worked for thirty years. Sweet job if you can get one?

  3. Lifeguards: Why, again? Shouldn’t we give stupid people to the sharks and improve the gene pool? And that money!!! Goodgawd, to watch fannies in the sand for half-a-mil? GMAFB!

  4. So now every case before the Ninth will need to go to SCOTUS, even obvious violations, because of corrupt Dem judges? Clearly this is part of the plan. Then, when SCOTUS rules against CA, who’s going to enforce it? The DOJ? FBI? Also, the latest NDAA seeks to restrict the authority of the president to fire bureaucrats in the administrative state. Clearly unconstitutional, but again, litigation logjam now in place. You see where we are right now. We are being cornered into watering the tree.

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