Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Teachers unions meet the class action lawyers
The following article appeared in the American Thinker on July 9th
Another technique that the left assumed it owned is coming around to bite the left in the posterior. Class action lawsuits have been a tool dominated by the left, with the tort bar a mainstay of the Democratic Party's funding base. Until now, most of the targets have been corporations, and some of the class action lawsuits have resulted in nominal payouts to members of the alleged class but large all-cash fees paid to the law firms (see here and here).
But in the wake of the Supreme Court's Janus ruling, making illegal involuntary and mandatory fees paid to unions representing government employees (so-called "agency fees"), the class action weapon is being turned against unions that are at the core of the Democrats' funding. Tyler O'Neill reports for PJ Media:
Justice is coming for unions that forced non-members to pay "non-political" agency fees that went to prop up Democratic candidates. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that forcing workers who disagree with a union to make these payments anyway violates the workers' First Amendment rights.
Less than a week after that ruling, Janus v. Association of Federal, State, City, and Municipal Employees (FSCME), seven California teachers have filed a class-action lawsuit to recoup unjustly forced fees.
"This lawsuit will enable teachers like me to recover the agency fees that we were wrongly forced to pay against our will," Scott Wilford, the plaintiff in the new lawsuit, told Education Week. Wilford filed the lawsuit in the Central District of California's federal court on Tuesday.
These agency fees can amount to hundreds of dollars a year for each teacher, previously deducted from paychecks before teachers had access to the funds. So the proposition that will be offered to individual teachers, should the class be approved by the court, will be to respond to a mailer that offers the opportunity to participate in the class and then face the possibility of recovery of thousands of dollars, the sum of agency fees paid over a series of years minus the lawyers' fees (typically, one third of the total recovered). Check a box, and end up with a big check.
That is a tempting offer, one that I suspect lots of teachers would be interested in accepting. Unless they are dedicated union-supporters, many teachers could check the box, sign the statement, and mail it back to the law firm, in hopes of an eventual check with four figures showing up after the legal wrangling is over.
For the unions, of course, coming up with that amount of cash – thousands of dollars per teacher in the class – could be a serious problem if enough people join. It's serious enough to warrant ending political donations and cutting back on staff and travel costs.
Kurt Schlichter of Townhall has been having great fun the past few years warning the left that the new rules they use against conservatives, Alinskyite tactics, for instance, are being turned against them, because the old-style gentlemanly conservatism is dead and gone, especially in the Age of Trump. And, he warns them, they're gonna hate living under the new rules they created.
Teachers unions meeting the class action tort bar is just the beginning. There are other unions, like AFSCME, that face the same blowback on tactics the left thought it owned.