SEIU, United Healthcare Workers-West (SEIU-UHW) has been hit with a proposed class action in which a California man claims the union automatically debited membership dues from his bank account without authorization to do so.
The plaintiff says he worked for the defendant, a local branch of the Service Employees International Union, between 2009 and 2018, during which he authorized the union to debit $20 per month from his bank account for his children’s memberships. According to the complaint, the plaintiff ended his employment with the union in September 2018 and subsequently canceled his son’s membership. The defendant allegedly complied with the plaintiff’s request to cease automatic withdrawals for his son’s dues until April 2019, when the plaintiff says he was billed twice for “PLEDGEUP DUES & PAC,” the defendant’s membership dues platform.
The lawsuit claims the plaintiff was never given “advanced clear and conspicuous notice” of the auto-renewal, nor did he provide his written permission for such. According to the case, the defendant failed to notify the plaintiff of the auto-withdrawal “in any reasonable manner,” causing his account to be overdrawn and triggering overdraft fees.
The suit claims the union’s automatic debiting of the plaintiff’s account violated both the federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act and California law, which prohibit companies from automatically charging consumers without providing certain “clear and conspicuous” disclosures and securing their consent. More specifically, the case alleges the defendant overstepped California’s “Automatic Purchase Renewal Statute” by:
Failing to present the terms of the automatic renewal offer “in a clear and conspicuous manner” and in visual or temporal proximity to the request for consent to the offer;
Charging the plaintiff’s account without his affirmative consent;
Failing to provide notice of the “material changes” to the terms of the automatic renewal offer, including pricing; and
Failing to provide to the plaintiff, in a manner he could retain, with notice of the automatic renewal offer’s terms, cancellation policy, and instructions on how to cancel the automatic renewal.
The plaintiff claims in the lawsuit that it is the defendant’s policy and practice to automatically withdraw union dues from proposed class members’ accounts without providing proper notification or securing their consent to do so.
Originally filed in California’s superior court, the case has since been removed to the state’s Eastern District.