In 2000, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank, filed a complaint with the state of Washington alleging that the Washington Education Association illegally spent nonunion member fees on political campaigns, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The state eventually sued the union and on December 4, 2008, the WEA settled with the state. The WEA agreed to return $240,000 to nonunion members who paid fees between 2003 and 2007 and another $735,000 to the state.
In 2007, in a related case, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the state requirement that teachers’ unions must get approval from workers when spending dues on political campaigns. According to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, the decision, known as Davenport v. Washington Education Association, “avoided the more critical and far-sweeping question—whether union officials should be able to automatically collect forced dues for politics from nonunion members in the first place,” as reported by Education Week.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.