Union to pay teachers for campaign violations

OLYMPIA—The Washington Education Association (WEA) has agreed to return $225,000 to teachers after using their wages for the union’s political agenda without their authorization. This settlement ends a nine-year lawsuit that included an appeal the U.S. Supreme Court in which the high court ruled in favor of the teachers, Davenport v. WEA. The suit began when the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission. To date, the WEA has been ordered or agreed to pay over $1 million for violating teachers’ rights in this case.

Teachers in Washington are generally required to pay for union representation as a condition of employment. Teachers who decline to join the union must also pay union fees, but are given protections in state law to ensure protection of their First Amendment rights. Specifically, RCW 42.17.760 required unions to get permission from nonmembers before using their payments for political activity. (The legislature amended the law in 2007, significantly weakening its free speech protections for union-represented employees.)

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