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5 teachers sue California union over forced dues collection

March 11, 2019
File - In this April 24, 2107 file photo, Attorney Harmeet Dhillon speaks during a news conference in San Francisco. Five California educators filed a lawsuit Monday, March, 11, 2019, seeking to stop the state's top teachers union from collecting dues through mandatory paycheck deductions, the latest in a series of similar legal challenges filed across the country. The California teacher's lawyer Dhillon alleges that the paycheck deduction made over the educators' objections violates their First Amendment rights of speech and association. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Five California educators on Monday filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the state’s top teachers union from collecting dues through mandatory paycheck deductions, the latest in a series of similar legal challenges filed across the country.

The lawsuit challenging the California Teachers Association’s mandatory collection of dues follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 27 barring the practice in the public sector.

“These dues are a negative financial impact to a lot of teachers who live in the Bay Area where there is a high cost of living,” said Bethany Mendez, one of the plaintiffs and a special education teacher at the Fremont Unified School District. Mendez said she pays $1,500 per year in union dues.

The teachers are represented by San Francisco lawyer Harmeet Dhillon and the Freedom Foundation, an Olympia, Washington-based politically conservative think tank. The Freedom Foundation has represented teachers suing unions in several states.

About 70 percent of the nation’s 3.8 million public school teachers belong to a union, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Teacher unions across the country have been bracing for litigation since the high court ruled 5-4 that requiring dues payments forces public sector workers to endorse political messages that they may be counter to their beliefs.

“This is just another lawsuit from the Freedom Foundation to continue the attack on public education and public employees,” California Teacher Association spokeswoman Claudia Briggs said.

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