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Alvarez v. Inslee

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

January 24, 2017

KEENETH ALVAREZ, CAROL SHELTER, and RAUL FLORES, individual providers in Washington, Plaintiffs,
v.
GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of Washington, PATRICIA LASHWAY, in her official capacity as Director of the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION HEALTHCARE 775 NW, a labor organization, Defendants.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO COMPEL PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS FROM NONPARTY SEIU PARTNERSHIP AND REQUEST FOR RELIEF FROM DISCOVERY DEADLINES

          ROBERT J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Production of Documents from Nonparty [SEIU Healthcare Northwest Training Partnership (“NW Training Partnership”)] and Request for Relief from Discovery Deadlines. Dkt. 63. The Court has reviewed the pleadings filed regarding the motion and the remaining file.

         I. FACTS

         A. BACKGROUND FACTS

         Plaintiff Alvarez originally filed this case against the currently named Defendants and N.W. Training Partnership on February 11, 2016. Dkt. 1. On May 9, 2016, the N.W. Training Partnership's motion to dismiss was granted because Plaintiff Alvarez failed to state a claim against it and the N.W. Training Partnership was dismissed. Dkt. 26. Plaintiff was given leave to amend his complaint, and on October 25, 2016, he filed an Amended Complaint, which, among other things, added two additional Plaintiffs, but did not plead claims against N.W. Training Partnership. Dkt. 51.

         According to the Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs are “individual provider[s] . . . of personal or respite care services” (“IP”) who are paid by Washington's Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS” or “State”) to provide care for qualifying disabled individuals. Dkt. 51, at 5. They assert that “IPs are public employees ‘solely for the purposes of collective bargaining' and have been organized into a single statewide bargaining unit.” Id., at 6 (citing RCW 74.39A.270). Defendant Service Employees International Union Healthcare 775 N.W. (“SEIU”) is the “exclusive representative of the IP bargaining unit, ” and so engages in collective bargaining with the state (as represented by the governor or governor's designee). Id., at 6-7. The state and SEIU are obligated to bargain in good faith. Id., at 7. N.W. Training Partnership provides basic and continuing education/training classes for the IPs. Dkt. 70. The Amended Complaint asserts that attendance at the IP education/training classes is a condition of the IP's employment. Id. at 8-9.

         The Amended Complaint asserts that under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) the State must set aside 30 minutes for SEIU's presentations at the N.W. Training Partnership's basic education/training class, and 15 minutes for SEIU's presentations at contracting appointments and at the N.W. Training Partnership's continuing education/training classes. Id., at 7-9. Plaintiffs allege that the State pays IPs while they are attending these events, and IPs are required to, or believe they are required to, listen to SEIU's speech. Id. The Amended Complaint alleges that SEIU also receives space on the “necessarily frequented” bulletin boards and on the online payroll system. Id., at 9-10. It maintains that by paying the IPs to attend N.W. Training Partnership's basic training, contracting appointments, and N.W. Training Partnership's continuing education/training (all of where SEIU makes its presentations), the State “gives [the State's] money in the aid of SEIU.” Id., at 12. The Amended Complaint asserts that the State “uses its employees, money and property for the benefits of SEIU.” Id., at 13.

         The Amended Complaint acknowledges that on April 4, 2016, after the initial Complaint in this case was filed, a Memorandum of Understanding was entered into by the State and SEIU. Id., at 16. According to the Amended Complaint, this Memorandum of Understanding provided that:

Individual providers will not be required to meet with Union representatives and will suffer no discrimination or retaliation as a result of their choice to meet or not to meet. The Employer will remain neutral, and will not either encourage individual providers to meet or discourage them from meeting with Union representatives.

Id. The Memorandum of Understanding is alleged to further provide:

The parties agree that the Training Partnership shall provide the Union with reasonable access to its training classes, including providing the Union with technical support for online learning, in order for the Union to make a presentation concerning the Union and individual providers' rights and benefits (“Union issues”). The content of the presentation will be determined solely by the Union, but will not include urging support or opposition to any political candidate or ballot measure, and will be in compliance with RCW 42.52.160 and .180. The Employer agrees to compensate up to thirty (30) minutes of time for a presentation on Union issues to all individual providers attending the Union portion of required basic training. The Employer agrees to compensate up to fifteen (15) minutes of time annually for a presentation on Union issues to all individual providers attending the Union portion of required continuing education. Individual providers are not required to attend the Union presentations, and will suffer no retaliation or discrimination as a result of their choice to attend or not to attend. Any additional time for presentations on Union issues agreed upon between the Union and the Partnership shall not be compensated by the Employer.

Id., at 16-17. The Amended Complaint contends that this Memorandum of Understanding does not resolve the underlying concerns because there is no provision that requires either the State or the SEIU to inform the IPs that the SEIU's presentations are not mandatory. Id., at 17.

         The Amended Complaint alleges a claim for violation of Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights to the U.S. Constitution, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by asserting that:

The State violates Plaintiffs' and similarly situated IPs' First Amendment rights by compelling, or appearing to compel, a captive audience of IPs to receive SEIU's pro-union speech in three ways: i) by mandating, or appearing to mandate, meetings with SEIU in contracting appointments, basic training, and continuing education classes, ii) by SEIU bulletin boards in State offices “necessarily frequented” by IPs ...

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