United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO DISMISS; DIRECTING JOINT
STATEMENT OF PLAINTIFFS AND DEFENDANT MCCOWAN DKT. NOS. 83,
GONZALEZ ROGERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
instant action is one of many brought in the wake of the
United States Supreme Court's decision in Janus v.
AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S.Ct. 2448 (2018)
(“Janus”). Plaintiffs Scott Carpenter, Linda
Leigh-Dick, Bethany Mendez, Audrey Stewart, and Angela
Williams are teachers in different school districts across
California who were, at one time, members of their respective
teachers' unions. They allege that they submitted
requests to revoke their union memberships and dues
deductions and that they were informed those dues deductions
would not cease until the time period specified in their
membership agreements, i.e., a 90-day window falling
around their membership anniversary date in which they could
request termination of the dues deduction according to the
agreement's terms. (FAC ¶ 38.) Plaintiffs bring this
action on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983 against: (1) defendant
Attorney General Xavier Becerra (“the State”);
(2) defendants Associated Chino Teachers, California Teachers
Association, Fremont Unified District Teachers Association,
Hayward Education Association-CTA-NEA, National Education
Association, Tustin Educators Association, Valley
Center-Pauma Teachers Association (collectively, “the
Union defendants”); and (3) defendants Kim Wallace,
Matt Wayne, Norm Enfield and Gregory Franklin (“the
particular, plaintiffs bring a Section1983 claim against all
defendants on the grounds that deduction of dues from
plaintiffs' wages pursuant to California Education Code
section 45060 violates the First Amendment of the United
States Constitution. They bring a second Section 1983 claim
against the Union defendants and the Superintendents on the
grounds that the deduction of dues pursuant to the collective
bargaining agreements (CBAs) likewise violates the First
motion to dismiss pending, plaintiffs filed their First
Amended Complaint (“FAC”) as of right on June 11,
2019. (Dkt. No. 62.) Thereafter, the State (Dkt. No. 83), the
Union defendants (Dkt. No. 84); and the Superintendents (Dkt.
Nos. 86, 88) filed or joined in motions to dismiss the FAC.
The Court heard oral argument on the motions on November 19,
2019. The Court has considered carefully the papers submitted
and the pleadings in this action, as well as the parties'
arguments at the hearing. For the reasons set forth below and
the decisions cited herein, the motions to dismiss (Dkt. Nos.
83, 84, and 88) and the joinders to those motions are
state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff  must allege
the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws
of the United States, and  must show that the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of
state law.” Naffe v. Frey, 789 F.3d 1030,
1035- 36 (9th Cir. 2015). “Dismissal of a § 1983
claim following a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is proper if the
complaint is devoid of factual allegations that give rise to
a plausible inference of either element.” Id.
at 1036 (internal citation omitted). “Section 1983
creates a cause of action based on personal liability and
predicated upon fault; thus, liability does not attach unless
the individual defendant caused or participated in a
constitutional deprivation.” Vance v. Peters,
97 F.3d 987, 991 (9th Cir. 1996); see also Taylor v.
List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989).
order to recover under § 1983 for conduct by the
defendant, a plaintiff must show ‘that the conduct
allegedly causing the deprivation of a federal right be
fairly attributable to the State.'” Caviness v.
Horizon Cmty. Learning Ctr., Inc., 590 F.3d 806, 812
(9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co.,
457 U.S. 922, 937 (1982)). “[M]ost rights secured by
the Constitution are protected only against infringement by
governments.” Lugar, 457 U.S. at 936-37
(1982); Naoko Ohno v. Yuko Yasuma, 723 F.3d
984, 993 (9th Cir. 2013) (state court enforcement of Japanese
judgment under California Uniform Judgment Act was not state
action). “[C]onstitutional standards are invoked only
when it can be said that the State is responsible for the
specific conduct of which the plaintiff complains.”
Id. at 994. The state-action element in section 1983
“excludes from its reach merely private conduct, no
matter how discriminatory or wrongful.”
Caviness, 590 F.3d at 812 (quoting Am. Mfrs.
Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sullivan, 526 U.S. 40, 50 (1999)).
Where the actions complained of are undertaken by a private
actor, “[s]tate action may be found . . . only if [ ]
there is such a close nexus between the State and the
challenged action that seemingly private behavior may be
fairly treated as that of the State itself.”
Id. at 812 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Villegas v.
Gilroy Garlic Festival Ass'n, 541 F.3d 950, 955 (9th
Cir.2008) (en banc)).
allege that California Education Code section 45060 violates
their First Amendment rights because it permits the
Superintendents to deduct union dues from their wages without
their clear, affirmative consent to use that money to
subsidize the union's political activity. (FAC ¶
131.) Plaintiffs allege that, after Janus, neither
their union representatives nor their public employer
informed them of their rights to refrain from joining or
financially supporting a union. (Id. ¶¶
33, 42, 51, 60, 68, 76, 87.)
general, under California Education Code section 45060,
public school teachers who voluntarily join the union may
have their union dues deducted from their paychecks if
“requested in a revocable written authorization by the
employee.” Cal. Educ. Code § 45060(a). “Any
revocation of a written authorization shall be in writing and
shall be effective provided the revocation complies with the
terms of the written authorization.” Id.
“The revocable written authorization shall remain in
effect until expressly revoked in writing by the employee,
pursuant to the terms of the written authorization.”
Cal. Educ. Code § 45060(c). The unions are responsible
for informing the school districts of employees'
The governing board shall honor the terms of the
employee's written authorization for payroll deductions.
Employee requests to cancel or change authorizations for
payroll deductions for employee organizations shall be
directed to the employee organization rather than to the
governing board. The employee organization shall be
responsible for processing these requests. The governing
board shall rely on information provided by the employee
organization regarding whether deductions for an employee
organization were properly canceled or changed.
Educ. Code § 45060(e).
the Court analyzes whether plaintiffs' alleged
constitutional injury on account of dues deductions under
section 45060 constitutes an injury arising from state action
and finds that it does not. The FAC alleges plaintiffs each
signed an agreement to pay union membership dues through a
payroll deduction for at least one year. Section 45060 does
no more than set forth an administrative, ministerial
mechanism for carrying out a deduction from the wages of
those individuals who voluntarily elected to become union
members and authorized deduction of their union dues from
their paychecks. The State and Superintendents play no role
in enforcing union membership agreements or setting their
every court to consider the issue has concluded,
Janus does not preclude enforcement of union
membership and dues deduction authorization agreements like
plaintiffs' agreements here. See Seager v. United
Teachers Los Angeles, No. 2:19-CV-469-JLS(DFM), 2019 WL
3822001, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 14, 2019) (claim for dues
already deducted pursuant to agreement fails as a matter of
law because consented to union membership and dues
deduction); O'Callaghan v. Regents of the Univ. of
California, No. CV 19-02289-JVS(DFMx), 2019 WL 2635585,
at *3-4 (C.D. Cal. June 10, 2019) (“nothing in
Janus's holding requires unions to cease
deductions for individuals who have affirmatively chosen to
become union members and accept the terms of a contract that
may limit their ability to revoke authorized dues-deductions
in exchange for union membership rights, such as voting,
merely because they later decide to resign
membership”); Belgau v. Inslee, 359 F.Supp.3d
1000, 1016 (W.D. Wash. 2019); Babb v. California Teachers
Ass'n, 378 F.Supp.3d 857, 877 (C.D. Cal. 2019) (C.D.
Cal. May 8, 2019); Crockett v. NEA-Alaska, 367
F.Supp.3d 996, 1008 (D. Alaska 2019); Bermudez v. SEIU
Local 521, 2019 WL 1615414, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 16,
2019); Cooley v. California Statewide Law Enforcement
Ass'n, 2019 WL 331170, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 25,
2019); Smith v. Superior Court, Cty. of Contra
Costa, 2018 WL 6072806, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 16, 2018),
order after further proceedings, Smith v.
Bieker, 2019 WL 2476679, at *2 (N.D. Cal. June 13,
2019); see also Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., 501 U.S.
663, 672 (1991) (“the First Amendment does not
confer… a constitutional right to disregard promises
that would otherwise be enforced under state law.”).
Union members “voluntarily chose to pay membership dues
in exchange for certain benefits, and the fact that
plaintiffs would not have opted to pay union membership fees
if Janus had been the law at the time of their
decision does not mean their decision was therefore
coerced.” Babb, 378 F.Supp.3d at 877 (internal
citation and quotation omitted). The State's (and
Superintendents') “deduct[ion of] fees in
accordance with the authorization agreements does not
transform decisions about membership requirements . . . into
state action.” Belgau, 359 F.Supp.3d at 1015
(internal citation omitted). The Court spent considerable
time reviewing the rationale underpinning these decisions
during oral arguments and finds no persuasive basis to reject
the rationale set forth therein.
there is no alleged nexus between the State and
Superintendents' actions and the alleged wrongful conduct
of the Union defendants such as establish state action for
purposes of section 1983 liability. Plaintiffs allege that
they believed that they had to join a union or were
misinformed by the Union defendants about the legal
implications of signing their membership and dues deduction
authorization agreements. California's Educational
Employment Relations Act (“EERA”) makes union
membership voluntary for school district employees.
See Cal. Gov't Code §§ 3543, 3543.5,
3543.6; Cumero v. Pub. Employment Relations Bd., 49
Cal.3d 575, 587 (1989). To the extent plaintiffs allege that
the Union defendants misinformed them about their legal
obligations to join the union or pay membership dues, ...