United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING STATE DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
THE COURT is Defendants Cheryl Strange and Jay Inslee's
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 50). The motion was
submitted for consideration without a request for oral
argument. The Court has reviewed the record and files herein
and is fully informed. For the reasons discussed below, the
motion (ECF No. 50) is granted.
case concerns two sets of unauthorized withdrawals of union
dues from Plaintiff Cindy Ellen Ochoa's pay-one set from
2016 to 2017 and another set of withdrawals in mid-2018.
works as an “individual provider” contracting
with the State of Washington and the Department of Social and
Health Services to provide care to Medicaid eligible clients.
Defendants are state officials, sued in their official
capacity, representing the State and the agency (hereinafter,
collectively referred to as “Defendants”). The
Defendants are a party to a collective bargaining agreement
with the Service Employees International Union 775
(“SEIU 775”)-the union which represents
individual providers like Plaintiff. ECF No. 51 at 2, ¶
4. According to the agreement with SEIU 775-both at the time
of the complained-of withdrawals and currently-individual
providers communicate directly with SEIU 775 about whether
they wish to have dues deducted; SEIU 775 then passes the
information to Defendants, who provide the information to a
third-party contractor that processes the payments to
individual providers, including the withholding of union dues
and other withholdings. ECF No. 51 at 2-3, ¶¶ 5-6.
legal framework for withdrawing union dues has shifted over
the relevant time period. As of 2014, individual providers
had the right to opt out of paying union dues-without
affirmatively opting out, the union dues would be withdrawn.
ECF No. 51 at 3, ¶ 7. On June 27, 2018, the Supreme
Court determined that union dues could only be withdrawn if
the individual provider opted in to paying union dues-without
affirmatively opting in, the union dues would not be
withdrawn. ECF No. 51 at 4-5, ¶ 13. To account for this,
Defendants adjusted their procedures for withdrawing union
dues soon after the decision-i.e., requiring an affirmative
opt in for the withdrawal of union dues. ECF No. 51 at 5,
exercised her right to opt out of paying union dues in 2014
and the union dues withdrawals stopped at that time.
See ECF No. 38 at 13, ¶ 77. Because Plaintiff
had opted out, Plaintiff would have had to affirmatively opt
in for union dues to be legitimately withdrawn. However,
union dues were withdrawn from her pay in 2016 to 2017 and
again in 2018 without Plaintiff's authorization.
First series of withdrawals
first series of unauthorized withdrawals began on October 17,
2016 after Defendants “received a dues interface file
from SEIU 775 for [Plaintiff] indicating dues should be
withdrawn.” ECF No. 51 at 4, ¶ 11. The withdrawals
stopped around May of 2017 after Defendants “received a
dues interface file from SEIU 775 on June 4, 2017, indicating
[Plaintiff's] dues withdrawal should cease.” ECF
No. 51 at 4, ¶ 12. According to Plaintiff, the dues
where withdrawn based on a forged signature allegedly
manufactured by an agent of SEIU 775. ECF Nos. 59 at 4; 59-2
at 2, ¶ 1.
noticed the dues were being withheld from her pay “soon
before March 2017”. ECF No. 39 at 11, ¶ 64.
Plaintiff alleges that she called the Defendants'
third-party contractor and requested they stop withholding
the union dues on March 1, 2017 and thereafter until May 1,
2017, when the contractor informed Plaintiff that she would
need to contact SEIU 775 for assistance, explaining:
“the deduction order comes from the union [so] the
release also must come from the union”. ECF No. 39 at
12-14, ¶¶ 66-78.
soon as [Plaintiff] realized [the third-party contractor]
could not help her, she contacted SEIU 775.” SEIU 775
informed Plaintiff that “SEIU 775 was withdrawing union
dues from [Plaintiff's] salary because [Plaintiff] had
signed a union membership card.” ECF No. 39 at 14,
¶ 80. Plaintiff denied authorizing such and
“demanded that she be shown the card”. ECF No. 39
at 14, ¶ 80. SEIU 775 sent Plaintiff a copy of the
electronic signature dated May 28, 2016. ECF No. 39 at 14,
¶ 81. Upon receipt of the copy, Plaintiff
“immediately recognized that the signature was not her
own” and “again contacted SEIU 775 and demanded
that they stop withdrawing dues from her salary, and remit
the amount taken from her.” ECF No. 39 at 14, ¶
82. “In June 2017, Adam Glickman, secretary treasurer
of SEIU 775, sent [Plaintiff] a letter . . . admit[ing] . . .
the electronic signature on the card [did not match
Plaintiff's] other signatures on file[.]” ECF No.
39 at 14-15, ¶ 83. The letter included a check to
Plaintiff returning $358.94. ECF No. 39 at 15, ¶ 83.
“[I]n July 2017, SEIU 775 sent a second letter to
[Plaintiff] returning an additional $51.12.” ECF No. 39
at 15, ¶ 84.
Second series of withdrawals
second unauthorized withdrawal began in July 2018 and ended
in August 2018. ECF No. 39 at 16, ¶ 92. As with the
first series of withdrawals, Plaintiff had previously opted
out, so she had to affirmatively opt in for dues to be
legitimately withdrawn. Plaintiff denies authorizing the
withdrawals and, at the time of filing suit, she did not know
why the 2018 withdrawals began.
her previous experience with the third-party contractor not
being able to help, Plaintiff again contacted them to stop
the withdrawals to no avail. ECF Nos. 39 at 16-17,
¶¶ 93-95; 59-2 at 2, ¶ 4. According to
Plaintiff, her “counsel informed SEIU 775 of the
withholdings” and the “[d]ues withholdings ceased
promptly thereafter.” Notably, Plaintiff attests that
“[i]n both instances, in order to have the deductions
stop, [she] had to contact [the third-party contractor] and
SEIU 775 numerous times, but did not receive adequate
assistance on any of these occasions.” ECF No. 59-2 at
2, ¶ 4. She also avers that she did not receive
assistance from Defendants in ceasing dues deduction, but she
does not allege that she contacted Defendants. ECF No. 59-2
at 2, ¶ 6.
Plaintiff was not aware of why the second series of
withdrawals began, Defendants have provided an explanation.
According to Defendants, beginning on June 28, 2018 - the day
after the Supreme Court determined members must affirmatively
opt in for dues to be withdrawn - Defendants implemented a
temporary procedure for determining whether individual
providers had given affirmative consent for withdrawals and
began processing withdrawals accordingly. See ECF
No. 51 at 5-7, ¶¶ 18-30. The process was not
without error, however, as Defendants determined that
“there were approximately 87 individual providers who
likely had dues deductions taken without affirmative
consent” as a result of discrepancies in the lists
received from SEIU 775; this included the ...