Education

California Teacher Sues Union Over Call To Defund The Police

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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A California teacher is suing his union over their calls to defund the police.

Glenn Laird, a Los Angeles graphic design and tech high school teacher, requests that a court order the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) to release him from his membership and return his union dues. UTLA is demanding, as a condition of their return to classrooms following the COVID-19 pandemic, that Los Angeles cut police funding, and that the federal government institute Medicare-for-All.

“I couldn’t, in good conscience, be a member and pay dues knowing that my money was supporting an anti-police agenda,” Laird said.

“Laird has witnessed students strangled, stabbed, and even shot to death in his thirty-eight years as a public-school teacher,” according to his lawsuit, filed March 16 in US District Court. He endorses police presence in schools to cut down on violence.

Before signing his contract, Laird removed a provision saying that he had to resign from the union within a specific opt-out window, the lawsuit notes. Therefore, he claims, he should have been free to resign his union membership at any time. Laird and his attorneys point to the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME ruling as precedent.

Janus prevents unions from collecting dues for the purpose of engaging in political speech. “Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. (RELATED: Union Boss Says Janus Decision Will Go Down In ‘Judicial Infamy’ Like Dred Scott And Korematsu)

UTLA specifically cited the Janus decision in its decision to change to its contract. The union added language in 2018 creating the opt-out window, during which teachers could resign their membership from the union. Laird adjusted his contract, crossing out the language explaining the opt-out window, so that it matched his previous contract. This was accepted at the time. Despite Laird’s adjustment, the union “continued to insist that the Los Angeles Unified School District (the District) divert Mr. Laird’s lawfully earned wages to UTLA.”

Laird is requesting that a court order the UTLA to return the $716.32 that the UTLA took from his paychecks, as well as other damages for violations of his First Amendment rights.