A retired Santa Barbara County employee has filed a federal lawsuit against the county and a local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate for violating her constitutional rights and refusing to follow federal disclosure requirements.

Rosemary Banko filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California located in Los Angles with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Before Banko retired in July, the county collected full union dues from her paychecks even though she was not a member of the SEIU Local 620.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that workers have the unconditional right to refrain from union membership at any time. However, because California does not have a Right to Work law, union officials can compel nonmember workers into paying union dues and fees as a condition of employment. The Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson case that union officials must provide nonmember public workers with an independently-audited breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures and the opportunity to object and challenge the amount of forced union fees before an impartial decision maker.

This minimal safeguard is designed to ensure that workers have an opportunity to refrain from paying for union political activities and member-only events.

Banko’s suit alleges that the county deducted full union dues from her paychecks at SEIU Local 620 union officials’ behest even though the union hierarchy refused to follow the federal disclosure requirements outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hudson.

Banko is asking the court to order a refund of all illegally-seized union dues and fees from her paychecks, plus interest.

“To keep their forced-dues gravy train going, SEIU union officials are keeping Santa Barbara workers in the dark about their rights,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case underscores why California needs a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary.”

Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.


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