United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises out of Plaintiff Alfred Sweet's attempt to
end his union membership. Alfred Sweet
(“Plaintiff” or “Sweet”) alleges the
California Association of Psychiatric Technicians
(“CAPT”) violated his First Amendment rights to
free speech and free association by refusing to immediately
accept his resignation from union membership and by
continuing to deduct union dues from his paycheck (Count I).
Sweet further alleges the California laws which provide
designated unions like CAPT with exclusive representation of
collective bargaining units, including union nonmembers, are
unconstitutional abridgements of his First Amendment rights
moves to dismiss Count II of the Complaint. Mot., ECF No.
17-1. Sweet opposes the motion. Opp'n, ECF No. 24.
reasons set forth below, this Court GRANTS defendant
FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Alfred Sweet is a psychiatric technician employed by the
Atascadero State Hospital (“Atascadero”). Compl.
¶ 16. Atascadero is a public hospital run by the
California Department of State Hospitals. Id. ¶
17. CAPT is the exclusive representative available to Sweet
for collective bargaining with California. Id.
¶¶ 28-30, 41, 56-58. Sweet became a member of CAPT
in January 2011, upon the start of his employment with
Atascadero. Id. ¶ 18. During his tenure with
Atascadero, Sweet has developed and raised concerns about
CAPT's management practices and representation of its
members. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. On several
occasions, Sweet requested to leave the Union, but the Union
denied his requests. Id. ¶¶ 21-22. Most
recently, after the Supreme Court's decision in Janus,
Sweet submitted a letter to CAPT requesting to resign his
membership and that CAPT stop deducting dues from his
paycheck. Id. ¶ 23. CAPT responded that Sweet
could not resign his membership except within the thirty-day
window prior to the expiration of the current collective
bargaining agreement, in this case June 1 to July 1, 2019.
Id. ¶¶ 24-25.
filed the Complaint on February 27, 2019, arguing (1) CAPT
violated his rights to free speech and free association by
refusing to allow Sweet to immediately withdraw from the
union and by continuing to deduct union dues (Count I); and
(2) California's exclusive representation provisions for
collective bargaining - namely California Government Code
Sections 3515.5 and 3520.5 - violate the First Amendment by
forcing him to continue to associate with CAPT without his
affirmative consent (Count II). Compl., ECF No. 1. Sweet
seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief.
has since accepted Sweet's resignation, effective June 1,
2019, and has ceased deducting dues as of Sweet's
paycheck for the June 1-15, 2019 pay period. Joint Response
to Court, ECF No. 31. Nevertheless, Sweet remains a
publicly-employed psychiatric technician and thus CAPT
continues to represent him in employment negotiations with
argues Sweet's free association challenge in Count II is
barred by Minnesota State Bd. for Cmty. Colleges v.
Knight, 465 U.S. 271 (1984)
(“Knight”), and Mentele v.
Inslee, 916 F.3d 783 (9th Cir. 2019)
(“Mentele”). Mot. at 8-11. Sweet
contends that Knight and Mentele can be
distinguished, and that the logic of the Supreme Court's
decision in Janus v. Am. Fed'n of State, Cty., &
Mun. Employees, Council 31, 138 S.Ct. 2448 (2018)
(“Janus”), supports his contention that
California's statutory scheme compels him to petition the
government with a viewpoint that is inconsistent with his own
goals and priorities. Opp'n. This Court agrees with CAPT.
law permits state employees “to select one employee
organization as the exclusive representative of the employees
in an appropriate unit, and to permit the exclusive
representative to receive financial support from those
employees who receive the benefits of this
representation.” Cal. Gov't Code § 3512. The
employees petition the state for recognition of the selected
union for exclusive representative status. Cal. Gov't
Code § 3520.5. Once the exclusive representative is
certified by the state, “the recognized employee
organization is the only organization that may represent that
unit in employment relations with the state.” Cal.
Gov't Code § 3515.5. That representation extends to
matters including wages, hours, and other conditions of
employment. Cal. Gov't Code § 3516. The exclusive
representative must “fairly represent each and every
employee in the . . . unit.” Cal. Gov't Code §
Knight, the Supreme Court considered a Minnesota law
that “provide[d] for the division of public employees
into appropriate bargaining units and establishe[d] a
procedure, based on majority support within a unit, for the
designation of an exclusive bargaining agent for that
unit.” 465 U.S. at 273-75. The law “require[d]
public employers to ‘meet and negotiate' with
exclusive representatives concerning the ‘terms and
conditions of employment, '” which included hours
of employment, compensation, and personnel policies.
Id. Accordingly, employers could “neither
‘meet and negotiate' nor ‘meet and
confer' with any members of that bargaining unit except
through their exclusive representative.” Id. A
group of twenty Minnesota community college faculty
instructors, who were not members of the union deemed the
exclusive bargaining representative for college faculty,
challenged the law. Id. at 275-79. The Supreme Court
upheld the law, concluding that the nonmembers'
“speech and associational rights . . . have not been
infringed by Minnesota's restriction of participation in
‘meet and confer' sessions to the faculty's
exclusive representative. [Minnesota] has in no way
restrained [the nonmembers'] freedom ...