On May 7, the US District Court for the Central District of California granted five unions’ motion to intervene as defendants in Barke v. Banks. Earlier this year, CIR sued members of California’s Public Employment Relations Board to declare unconstitutional and stop the enforcement of Section 3550, which prohibits public employers from criticizing public employee unions, in violation of their First Amendment right to free speech. On March 24, five unions sought to intervene as defendants claiming to have a distinct interest in Section 3550 that California’s PERB may not adequately represent.
Even though the unions and the PERB have the very same goal — defending the constitutionality of Section 3550 — the unions claim that their interest is distinct because they use the law to serve themselves and their members where the PERB serves the public as a whole. Adhering to the Ninth Circuit’s policy of liberally allowing intervention, the district court accepted the unions’ argument and granted their motion. As a result of this decision, the five unions will be defendants in the case going forward.
Separately, on May 12, California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, filed a motion for leave to intervene as a defendant. His request to intervene demonstrates the importance California officials attach to Section 3550.