TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — An Olympia-based think tank is suing to force Washington state and a union for home-care workers to reimburse those workers for union dues or fees they didn’t want to pay.
The Freedom Foundation filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. It seeks class-action status on behalf of hundreds or thousands of in-home care providers for elderly or disabled clients covered by Medicaid in the past four years.
The lawsuit says the state automatically collects 3.2 percent of the workers’ pay and turns it over to the union, SEIU 775.
Workers can choose to opt out, but the organization says the state has failed to honor some of those requests.
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Maxford Nelsen, the Freedom Foundation’s labor policy director, says the organization was already planning to sue, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 Janus decision last week helped its cause.
That ruling said forcing public employees to pay union dues without their prior consent is unconstitutional. The home care workers aren’t considered full public employees, but Nelsen says the same logic should apply to them.
SEIU spokeswoman Nina Jenkins and Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jay Inslee, said they had not seen the lawsuit and could not immediately comment.