Oregon Union Claims Fake Signature Binds Employee to Pay Dues

By Jason Dudash | Freedom Foundation

For most of his 10 years as an Oregon state employee, Mr. Craig had no reason to question the State’s monthly deduction of SEIU 503 membership dues from his paychecks.

But when a minor disagreement escalated into a request from Mr. Craig to terminate his membership, he quickly found out what sort of outfit his dues had been supporting all along.

Mr. Craig contacted SEIU 503 last September with an inquiry about the terms of his contract with the union. Rather than customer service, however, what he got was attitude from the SEIU 503 rep, who refused to answer any of his questions.

Mr. Craig responded by requesting to opt out of his membership and dues — a right affirmed just a year earlier by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. Craig was informed, however, that under the terms of the SEIU 503 membership card he’d signed in 2017, the soonest he could opt out would be July 2020.

This struck Mr. Craig as odd, considering he’d made a point of never signing a card with SEIU 503 or any other union in his life.

Mr. Craig demanded a copy of the card from SEIU 503, and when it arrived, his suspicions were confirmed.

It was a forgery.

Not only were several factual details incorrect, but others were omitted entirely. And the signature was obviously not his.

Looking for answers, Mr. Craig called the Freedom Foundation. After learning the facts, Freedom Foundation attorney Rebekah Millard sent a letter to SEIU 503 on Mr. Craig’s behalf seeking an explanation, as well as a refund of his wrongfully taken dues money.

SEIU 503 offered neither. Instead, SEIU 503’s response enclosed a second membership card it claimed Mr. Craig had signed back in 2013. But the signature on this one wasn’t his either.

Realizing the only way to hold SEIU 503 accountable was to go to court, Mr. Craig and the Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit.

“As if it weren’t bad enough to take someone’s money without authorization, SEIU 503 now apparently has no problem passing forged signatures,” Millard noted. “We’re proud to stand with a hardworking Oregonians like Mr. Craig. Government unions need to understand that they don’t get to play by a different set of rules, and they certainly are not above the law”.