CAn government agencies use member fees to promote messages that members oppose? A Grape case in california says yes.
Free speech vs. the government's interest in promoting and marketing the state's grape industry. That was the question in Delano Farms Company v. California Table Grape Commission. The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Grape Commission, finding that the marketing, paid for by fees passed on to grape growers and shippers, constituted government, not private speech
(which is given more protection from government intrusion).
The Court went through a lengthy discussion and review of the case law regarding private vs. government speech and the consequences of speech being classified in either category. The Court also reviewed the statutory set up and duties of the Grape Commission, which was created in the 1960's to assist the table grape industry. This industry is now worth approximately $1.7 billion to the California economy. The Grape Commission was originally created when the grape industry to deal with increasing competition and other issues in the grape markets.
After a lengthy review, the speech that was being generated in the Grape Commission's work, including marketing of grapes, was found to be government speech - not private speech being forced upon the grape shippers and growers. Such a classification proved fatal in this case, as this type of speech enjoys little to no protection under Article I, Section 2 of the California Constitution. The California Supreme Court found in favor of the Grape Commission, allowing them to continue charging fees to grape growers and shippers.