September 16, 2020. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a published decision in Belgau v. Inslee, No. 19-35137, rejecting claims by former union members, represented by a conservative advocacy organization, who alleged that their First Amendment rights were violated when their state employer deducted union membership dues that the plaintiffs themselves had agreed to pay in exchange for union membership rights and benefits. The Court joined what it called the “swelling chorus of courts” recognizing that Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 38 S.Ct. 2448 (2018), did not invalidate voluntary union membership agreements. Belgau is the first decision from a federal Court of Appeals addressing similar claims.
Altshuler Berzon LLP represented the Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 in Belgau. The firm also represents the union defendants in many other cases in which federal district courts have rejected similar claims brought against public sector unions by the same conservative advocacy organization, and other similar organizations, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision.