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California teacher leads lawsuit against state's teachers union over forced dues

San Francisco — A Freemont, California, special education teacher has taken the lead in challenging the state's teachers union and its attorney general for failing to inform public school teachers of their right to not pay union dues. The filing Monday in federal court in California's Northern District seeks to force the California Teachers Union to obtain the consent of a teacher before deducting wages and refund all union fees to the state's teachers because they were not informed.

Bethany Mendez, lead plaintiff and teacher in the Fremont Unified School District, said she was not informed she was no longer required to have the annual $1,500 union dues deducted from her pay, as mandated by a June 2018 Supreme Court decision Janus v. AFSCME. Mendez said she "heard about it from my husband" and not by the union.

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Plaintiff Bethany Mendez (center), attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon (right) and Mariah Gondeiro-Watt, litigation counsel for the Freedom Foundation, seen Mon., March 11, 2019. CBS San Francisco

Lawyers for Mendez and five other California teachers named as plaintiffs, said the suit aims to end what they call "illegal" dues deductions. The plaintiffs also charge California Attorney General Xavier Becerra with failure to enforce the Supreme Court's decision.

The suit comes after a deeply divided Supreme Court dealt a major blow to public employee unions last year with Judge Samuel Alito writing the decision for the majority. In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan, joined by the court's three other liberals, accused the majority of "weaponizing the First Amendment."

President Trump wasted no time saying the decision would help Republicans at the polls. "Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!" he tweeted at the time.

Supreme Court rules that public sector workers can't be forced to pay union fees
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