The United States Law Week

Union Could Still Collect Dues From Members Who Quit

Dec. 18, 2018, 1:17 PM

A public employee union didn’t violate the First Amendment by collecting dues from members after they members quit the union, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said in an unpublished Dec. 17 opinion.

The union was only enforcing the terms of signed membership cards, which obligated the members to pay dues for at least a full year, the court said.

The provision authorized withholding the dues, and making that authorization irrevocable for one year was clear, readable, and “well within the ken of unrepresented or lay parties,” the court said.

Similar authorizations in consumer contracts like gym memberships are regularly enforced under state contract law, and the provisions here should be, too, the court said.

The plaintiffs waived their argument that under recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent their consent to the deduction was impermissible from the outset and therefore violated their First Amendment rights, the court said.

Judges Susan P. Graber, M. Margaret McKeown, and Morgan Christen were on the panel.

Freedom Foundation represented the plaintiffs. Frank Freed Subit & Thomas LLP represented the union.

The case is Fisk v. Inslee, 2018 BL 465866, 9th Cir., No. 17-35957, unpublished 12/17/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com

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