United States District Court, D. Connecticut
KIERNAN J. WHOLEAN and JAMES A. GRILLO, Plaintiffs,
CSEA SEIU LOCAL 2001, BENJAMIN BARNES, in his official capacity as Secretary of Policy and Management, State of Connecticut, SANDRA FAE BROWN-BREWTON, in her official Capacity as Undersecretary of Labor Relations, State of Connecticut, and ROBERT KLEE, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, State of Connecticut, Defendants.
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
W. Eginton, Senior United States District Judge
are employees of the Connecticut Department of Energy and
Environmental Protection who paid fair-share or
“agency” fees to Local 2001 prior to the United
States Supreme Court decision, Janus v. AFSCME Council
31, 138 S.Ct. 2448 (June 27, 2018), which held that
public employers may not require public employees to pay
fair-share fees. Plaintiffs' second amended complaint
alleges a putative class action challenging the
constitutionality of requiring non-union members to pay union
fees as a condition of state employment pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiffs also allege one claim of unjust
enrichment pursuant to state law.
CSEA and the defendant state officials have filed motions to
dismiss, which assert that plaintiffs' claims for
declaratory and injunctive relief are now moot. Defendant
CSEA argues further that plaintiffs' request for
repayment of such fees should be dismissed because defendant
had a good faith reliance on existing law authorizing
collection of such fees.
following reasons, the motions to dismiss will be granted.
motion to dismiss, the Court considers the facts alleged in
the complaint to be true. For purposes of considering a
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,
the Court also considers factual issues outside of the
pleadings, including the affidavits attached to the motions
to dismiss See State Emps. Bargaining Agent Coal. v.
Rowland, 494 F.3d 71, 77 n.4 (2d Cir. 2007).
Local 2001 serves as the collective bargaining representative
for a bargaining unit comprising employees of the Connecticut
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
(“DEEP”). Plaintiffs are not union members.
to June 27, 2018, the collective bargaining agreements
governing plaintiffs' bargaining unit required
non-members to pay fair-share fees to Local 2001 to cover
their portion of the costs of collective bargaining
after Janus was issued, Local 2001 notified DEEP
that it should stop deducting fees from non-members. Two days
later, the State of Connecticut informed Local 2001 and other
labor unions representing State employee to discontinue
deducting agency fees from non-union members. Due to the
processing time required for payroll changes, these fees were
deducted from non-members' wages for the payroll issued
on July 6, 2018. However, Local 2001 did not accept those
fees and sent refunds directly to the non-members.
2001 as part of a Coalition representing all state employee
unions and the State of Connecticut signed a formal agreement
eliminating from their collective bargaining agreements any
provisions requiring payment of fair-share fees. In September
2018, the parties signed a stipulated agreement providing, in
part, "any provisions of ... [the parties']
collective bargaining agreements requiring or authorizing the
collection of fair share fees from non-union bargaining unit
members without the specific affirmative consent of such
non-union members are and shall be null and void as of the
date of issuance of the Janus decision.”
second amended complaint recognizes that “the State
Defendants stopped deducting forced fees from the Plaintiffs
and class members' wages;” and that “the
Defendants on September 17, 2018, entered a stipulated
agreement which made the forced fees provisions in the
existing CBA null and void in light of Janus.”
However, plaintiffs assert that defendants “failed to
notify Plaintiffs or the proposed class that the CBA no
longer requires forced fees even though the existing
CBA's other provisions are still ongoing until June 30,
2021.” Plaintiffs maintain that “the bargaining
unit's membership knowledge that the forced fees
provisions continue to exist chills their exercise of First
Amendment rights to free speech and association.”
Plaintiffs allege that “Local 2001 has not refunded the
fees it collected before July 6, 2018, to Plaintiffs and the
class.” Plaintiffs maintain that defendants were on
notice regarding the Supreme Court's misgivings about
Abood and have thereby received a windfall from the
unconstitutional collection of non-members' fees.
motion to dismiss under FRCP 12(b)(1) "challenges the
court's statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate
the case before it." 2A James W. Moore et. al.,
Moore's Federal Practice, ¶ 12.07, at 12-49 (2d ed.
1994). Once the question of jurisdiction is raised, the
burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction rests on
the party asserting such jurisdiction. See Thomson v.
Gaskill, 315 U.S. 442, 446 (1942).
function of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is
"merely to assess the legal feasibility of the
complaint, not to assay the weight of the evidence which
might be offered in support thereof." Ryder Energy
Distribution v. Merrill Lynch Commodities, Inc., 748
F.2d 774, 779 (2d Cir. 1984). When deciding a motion to
dismiss, the Court must accept all well-pleaded allegations
as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
pleader. Hishon v. King, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). The
complaint must contain the grounds upon which the claim rests
through factual allegations sufficient “to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). A
plaintiff is obliged to amplify a ...