LA Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Teacher’s Union

Unions have been around for a long time, and they have done a lot of good for workers across the country. There was a time when workers had no rights and no benefits, and factory owners would actually have security guards physically harm any workers protesting or participating in a strike. There were even famous cases where security company employees hired by wealthy employers fired upon striking workers.

UnevenHowever, over the years, there have been some incidents involving corruption in unions, and this has helped those who are against unions make a case to workers that unions are no longer necessary. That being said, in many cases, unions are still a very strong tool disgruntled workers can use to fight for better treatment and fair pay.

According to a recent news article from the Los Angeles Times, some members of the local teacher’s union have taken their union to court based upon a disagreement as to how the union has been spending member dues. Specifically, the four union members participating in the lawsuit, along with support from several organizations, argued that the union should not be spending membership dues on political activities, and that, by doing so, they were violating members’ rights to freedom of speech if they did not agree with the political activity being undertaken by their own union.

The case, filed in federal court in California, is the not the first of its kind, but it did force the court to examine how much control a union member has over how the union spends its money. The judge ultimately dismissed the teacher’s complaint. The court found that the union could not force teachers to join, and membership in a union must be entirely voluntary. However, once a teacher decided to join the union, he or she had no say in how the union could spend the money it had. If a union member disagrees with a board decision, there are mechanisms in place to challenge a decision, or the union member may even run for a position within the organization; however, suing the union over a disagreement about how the money is being spent is not appropriate.

However, as our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, if there was proof the union leaders were spending money in ways not intended to benefit the union, such as embezzling funds to buy a personal car, this would be something a member could address in a lawsuit, as it would be a breach of one’s fiduciary duty to the organization.

There are a variety of ways to move to dismiss a case. In the very beginning of the matter, before having your first hearing, you move for what is known as a motion to dismiss for failure state a cause of action for which relief can be granted. A motion to dismiss, also called a 12(b(6) motion, must be based upon the pleadings alone. If the motion includes any extraneous information, which goes beyond the four corners of the document, it becomes what is known as a motion for summary judgment or, in federal court, a judgment as a matter of law.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

A judge throws out a challenge to how unions spend teachers’ money, September 30, 2015, Los Angeles Times, by Howard Blume

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Allen v. Chicago – Overtime Pay for Smartphone Use After-Hours, Aug. 10, 2015, Orange County Employment Attorney Blog