Why California Teacher’s Challenge Could Be Bad for Unions

In a turn of events that should surprise no one, it’s come to light over the last several years that governments and unions are not respecting workers’ rights to withdraw and opt-out of paying union dues, when it’s clearly a violation of their Constitutional rights.

Thomas Few is the latest to file litigation, following the Janus decision that was handed down in 2018. Few is suing the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) as well as Xavier Becerra, California’s Attorney General, and the Los Angeles Unified School District, alleging that he tried to withdraw from the union last summer and was told he had missed the opt-out window and was out of luck.

What should’ve been an open and shut case turned into months of back and forth, with no clear results until Few filed the lawsuit. Then, and only then, did the school agree to stop withholding the union dues and request that UTLA refund him for dues that he paid post-Janus. Few and his attorneys, however, contend that this isn’t enough. Now, he’s seeking retribution for all of the fees he’s paid since he started working, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated.

The main message that Few and his attorneys are sending through this litigation is that workers throughout the United States need to have their constitutional rights respected. They shouldn’t be forced to pay money to an organization or to causes they don’t support, and more than that, they shouldn’t be forced to pay to have a job, and he’s absolutely right. Unions do have a role to play, but joining one shouldn’t be mandated. Of course, the lack of dues could hit unions where hurts most — right in the wallet.