**Washington, DC (September 26, 2006)** — A group of teachers receiving free legal help from the National Right to Work Foundation today persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case in which Washington State’s high court struck down a state law intending to limit the misuse of mandatory union dues for certain political activities. The Washington State Attorney General also joined in the appeal.
The voided Washington law required union officials to obtain the prior consent of nonunion public employees before spending their mandatory union dues on a tiny fraction of what the union actually spends on politics. However, in the process of striking down the law, the state Supreme Court fabricated a constitutional “right” for union officials to spend the money of employees who want nothing to do with the union on politics.
If upheld, the Washington State Supreme Court rulings in *Davenport v. Washington Education Association (WEA) Union* and *Washington v. WEA Union* – which, as Justice Richard B. Sanders’ three-member dissent pointed out, “turns the First Amendment on its head” – open the door for activist court rulings to undermine America’s 22 state Right to Work laws, which make union affiliation and dues payment strictly voluntary.
Foundation attorneys – working jointly with Steven O’Ban of Ellis, Li, and McKinstry of Seattle – originally filed the suit, *Davenport v. WEA*, in 2001 for more than 4,000 Washington teachers who are not union members, but nonetheless are forced to pay union dues or be fired.
A long-awaited ruling in Davenport by the State Supreme Court in mid-March upheld an appellate court’s decision to overturn a trial court – thereby striking down the last remaining union dues provisions in I-134, Washington’s troubled “paycheck protection” law.
“These ineffective ‘paycheck protection’ laws have unfortunately opened a Pandora’s Box, creating an opportunity for activist courts to award new privileges to union bosses and even to jeopardize state Right to Work laws,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “While the underlying law is deeply flawed, the National Right to Work Foundation has a duty to limit the broader collateral damage done to employees’ rights by the court response.”
Though the Foundation believes the State Supreme Court’s decision was wrongheaded, the ruling brought into focus how difficult the paycheck protection regulatory approach is, and how ineffective it has been in protecting employees laboring under forced unionism. Even if Washington’s Supreme Court had reinstated the trial court’s rulings, I-134 would still only result in small individual refunds of $25 per year, on average. This is because the vast majority of union political expenditures are out of reach of the campaign finance regulation.
“Ultimately, Right to Work laws are the way to protect workers from the misuse of their funds. By making membership and the payment of dues entirely voluntary, Right to Work laws allow employees to prevent the theft in the first place,” stated Gleason.
Amicus Brief by 13 Public Policy Groups Supporting Cert
Amicus Brief by Institute for Justice Supporting Cert
Amicus Brief by Pacific Legal Foundation Supporting Cert
Amicus Brief by Campaign Legal Center Supporting Cert
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.