In November 2018, the Liberty Justice Center and California Policy Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of special education teacher Thomas Few against the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District for violating Few’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association.
Despite the decisive victory for workers’ rights in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Thomas Few was blocked from exercising his right to resign membership from the United Teachers of Los Angeles.
On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus that it is illegal to require government workers to pay dues or fees to a government union as a condition of employment. The Court also required that government employers – including states, cities, counties, and school districts – obtain clear consent from an employee in order to collect any union dues or fees from that employee. Further, the Court said that consent cannot be assumed; it must be voluntary, knowing, and shown by clear and compelling evidence.
Since the Janus decision, Few has attempted to leave UTLA and has asked his employer, LAUSD, to stop withholding union dues from his paycheck. UTLA has insisted that Few can only exercise his constitutional rights to not be a member once a year during a brief, 30-day period which they define. The Los Angeles Unified School District supports UTLA in its efforts to violate Few’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association by continuing to withhold union dues from his paycheck without his affirmative consent. The State of California laws which authorize this withholding are unconstitutional and unenforceable.