SAN JOSE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - The Service Employees International Union Local 521 had a complaint filed against it Aug. 27 by the California Public Employment Relations Board's San Francisco office.

SEIU allegedly refused to honor a worker's right to refrain from full dues paying union membership.

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center pharmacist Jeffrey Lum of Cupertino, a county employee, exercised his right to refrain from formal union membership in November. He sent a letter to the SEIU notifying it of his decision.

SEIU Local 521 officials acknowledged Lum's resignation letter but continued to deduct full union dues from his paychecks - claiming Lum's resignation from the union did not meet the union's criteria, it is alleged.

PERB investigated and decided Lum's claim was valid. It subsequently filed a state charge of a violation of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, which is a California state law giving California public employees the right to refrain from joining a union. The law also prohibits the union from harassing the employee for doing so.

Lum wants union officials to formally recognize his resignation and an independently audited breakdown of union expenditures, a refund of illegally seized forced union dues from his paychecks dating back to January, and the posting of notices in the workplace informing workers of their right to refrain from union membership.

The union has 20 days to respond.

"SEIU bosses are ignoring Supreme Court precedent and creating purposefully complicated rules to illegally coerce workers into full-dues-paying union ranks against their will," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work, which provided free legal assistance in the case.

"To prevent these types of forced unionism abuses in the future, California desperately needs to pass a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."

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