Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Victory Leads Union Lawyers to Drop Lawsuit Seeking to Overturn Idaho’s Right to Work Law
Following the National Right to Work Foundation’s victory in the US Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 370 union officials have withdrawn a case pending at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that sought to overturn Idaho’s longstanding Right to Work law.
Just hours after the Supreme Court released the landmark Janus v. AFSCME decision, declaring that public-sector workers cannot constitutionally be forced to pay union fees, the Court of Appeals asked that briefs be submitted by the parties in IUOE v. Wasden on the impact of Janus on the lawsuit.
Yesterday, prior to the deadline for that brief, union bosses notified the Court that they were withdrawing their legal challenge to Idaho’s popular Right to Work law which protects workers from being forced to fund a labor union as a condition of getting or keeping a job.
In addition to successfully arguing the Janus case at the U.S. Supreme Court, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus curiae brief in the in the IUOE v. Wasden case to defend Idaho and other state’s longstanding legal right to pass Right to Work laws to protect workers from forced union dues.
In response to the end of this particular legal attack on Right to Work, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement:
“This development is a huge victory for independent-minded workers, not just in Idaho but across the country. IUOE officials tried to push their outrageous legal theory to overturn over 60 years of precedent which, had it been accepted could have wiped out Right to Work protections for millions of workers. Thankfully, their attempt to end Right to Work laws has failed, and Idaho workers still have the liberty to choose whether or not to financially support a union.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule to cease the diversion of Medicaid payments from providers into union dues. Their press release can be found here.
National Right to Work President Mark Mix issued the following statement in response:
“Today’s announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is a vital first step in ending the illegal dues skim that diverts public funds away from the care of Medicaid recipients and into union officials’ coffers. For years, aided by a compliant Obama Administration, Big Labor has siphoned off hundreds of millions of tax dollars in violation of federal law, which is why this rulemaking is now needed make it clear that states cannot legally divert Medicaid funds into the bank accounts of politically-connected union bosses.”
The 2014 Foundation-won Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court decision found that it was unconstitutional for the state of Illinois to force home care providers paid through Medicaid programs to be forced to pay union fees. That case now continues as 80,000 providers seek the return of funds seized from them in violation of their First Amendment rights.
However, despite the Supreme Court ruling the dues skim has not stopped, which is why in 2017 the National Right to Work Foundation sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, bringing their attention to this issue. Additionally, Foundation President Mix personally raised the issue with Trump Administration officials earlier this year.
Janus Ruling Means Class-Action Lawsuit Challenging Union Opt-Out Requirement Could Return Over $100 Million to California Workers
Foundation-backed Hamidi v. SEIU class action lawsuit for over 40,000 nonmember workers seeks refunds of monies taken in violation of the First Amendment
Sacramento, CA (July 9, 2018) – The recent Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME strengthens the legal case brought for 40,000 California state employees seeking refunds of dues seized by Service Union International (SEIU) union officials.
Hamidi et al. v. SEIU Local 1000 is a class-action lawsuit challenging SEIU Local 1000 union officials’ opt-out policy that required workers to affirmatively opt-out of the portion of union fees that workers cannot be legally required to fund. In 2015, a federal District Court Judge certified National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney W. James Young as the attorney for the class of over 40,000 nonmembers who have been forced to fund SEIU union officials as a condition of employment.
On the same day Janus was decided, Young wrote a Rule 28(j) letter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals formally notifying the Court of the Janus decision and its relevance to the Hamidi case. The High Court’s opinion in Janus, written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, makes several points that bolster the legal claims of lead plaintiff Ken Hamidi and the other tens of thousands of other workers who seek damages for improperly seized “non-chargeable” union fees going back to June 2012.
In Janus the Supreme Court not only made it clear that the First Amendment protects public sector workers from being required to make any payments to a union as a condition of government employment, but also that workers cannot be required to opt out of such payments. According to the Supreme Court, “neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”
The Court also held that, since at least 2012 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a similar class of tens of thousands of nonmember employees forced to pay money to SEIU Local 1000 in the Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU Local 1000, unions “have been on notice” about the dubious legal grounds for requiring workers to pay any union fees.
Because SEIU Local 1000 did not adjust its policy of forcing workers to opt-out of non-chargeable fees after the Knox decision, the Supreme Court’s Janus decision means the union could now be required to refund all non-chargeable fees (determined by the Supreme Court in Janus to be all fees) seized since June 2012 from over 40,000 class members, an amount likely well over $100 million.
“Around the country, the effect of the Janus decision is just starting to be felt,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Thanks to this landmark ruling, tens of thousands of California government employees are now a step closer to finally receiving recompense for years of being forced to hand over their hard-earned money to an SEIU union they choose not to join.”
National Right to Work Foundation Sends Letter to States to Stop Forced-Fees Abuses that Violate Janus First Amendment Precedent
Letter explains states open themselves up to lawsuits if they continue seizing union fees from nonmember public employees
Springfield, VA (July 3, 2018) – In light of the new U.S. Supreme Court Janus ruling that declares compulsory union fees for government employees to be unconstitutional, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who argued and won the case, has sent letters to state comptrollers or other officials responsible for the state payroll in 21 states without Right to Work laws. The letter demands they comply with the new legal protections for workers and immediately cease deductions of union fees from the paychecks of all nonmember state employees.
The Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME, argued by Foundation staff attorney William Messenger, that forcing government employees who are not union members to pay union fees as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment. The Court’s opinion clarified that nonmember employees must “clearly and affirmatively consent before any money is taken from them” for payment to a union.
The Foundation’s letter was sent to the appropriate officials in all states that lack an active state Right to Work law, in which before Janus workers could be compelled to pay fees to a union to keep their jobs, even if they were not a union member. However, under the new protections in Janus, union officials can no longer require public-sector employees to pay dues, and payments can no longer be deducted from nonmembers’ paychecks without express consent.
In the letter, the Foundation urges those states to “immediately stop the deduction of union fees from the paychecks of all nonmember state employees,” as one state controller has already announced will be done.
If states do not comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, the letter explains that “Foundation staff attorneys will bring a civil rights action seeking class-wide injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees for any nonmember state employees who request their assistance.”
“Although the Janus decision is a huge victory for independent-minded government employees across the nation, a long road remains ahead to enforce the new protections of their First Amendment rights,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union officials just lost their forced-fees privileges to dock the paychecks of five million public-sector workers. The Foundation will continue to give workers a voice by making sure union bosses respect workers’ constitutional rights.”
The Foundation has also established www.MyJanusRights.org to inform government employees of their new rights.
National Right to Work Foundation Launches Task Force to Defend and Enforce Janus Supreme Court Victory
MyJanusRights.org offers free legal assistance to public employees seeking to enforce right to cut off union fees as protected by Janus v. AFSCME decision
Springfield, VA (June 28, 2018) – Today the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced the creation of a task force to defend the rights of government employees as protected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
The Foundation’s Janus Task Force includes veteran Foundation staff attorney William Messenger, who successfully argued Janus v. AFSCME before the Supreme Court and other staff attorneys who worked on the case.
The National Right to Work Foundation has also established a stand-alone website to assist workers in learning their rights and providing guidance on how to exercise them. That site, www.MyJanusRights.org, directs workers to the Foundation’s legal aid program for free assistance in exercising their First Amendment rights protected by the Janus decision. Foundation legal aid can also be obtained through www.nrtw.org or by calling 1-800-336-3600.
The Foundation is offering free legal aid to all government workers who wish to refrain from union membership and union payments. The Foundation’s eighteen staff attorneys defend workers’ rights in more than 200 cases each year, all at no cost to the employees aided.
“The victory in Janus means that public-sector workers can no longer be forced to pay dues or fees to union officials to keep their jobs,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Unfortunately, experience shows us that union officials frequently ignore restrictions on their power over workers, which is why we are establishing this task force to assist workers who want to enforce their new Janus rights.”
The Foundation has a long history of assisting employees seeking to exercise their Right to Work protections. Defending and enforcing Right to Work protections has long been one of the most critical tasks Foundation staff attorneys undertake. Any public-sector worker who has questions about his or her rights, or encounters any resistance or abuse while trying to exercise his or her workplace rights, is encouraged to contact Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid.
U.S. Supreme Court issues 5-4 decision that government workers cannot be forced to pay union fees
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger takes questions from reporters after arguing the Janus case on February 26, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2018) – In a major victory for First Amendment rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in Janus v. AFSCME that non-union government workers cannot be required to pay union fees as a condition of working in public service. This landmark case restores the First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of association to more than 5 million public school teachers, first responders and other government workers across the country.
Mark Janus, plaintiff in the case and a child support specialist for state government in Illinois offered the following reaction: “I’m thrilled that the Supreme Court has restored not only my First Amendment rights, but the rights of millions of other government workers across the country. Across the country, so many of us have been forced to pay for political speech and policy positions with which we disagree, just so we can keep our jobs. This is a victory for all of us. The right to say ‘no’ to a union is just as important as the right to say ‘yes.’ Finally our rights have been restored.”
Janus filed his case in Illinois in 2015 with free legal aid from the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Jacob Huebert, Janus’ attorney from the Liberty Justice Center, responded to today’s ruling: “This is the biggest victory for workers’ rights in a generation. The First Amendment guarantees each of us, as individuals, the right to choose which groups we will and won’t support with our money. Today the Supreme Court recognized that no one should be forced to give up that right just to be allowed to work in government. The Court recognized that unions have the right to organize and to advocate for the policies they believe in – but they don’t have a special right to force people to pay for their lobbying. They have to play by the same rules as everyone else.”
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, offered the following comment:
“Today’s decision is a landmark victory for rights of public-sector employees coast-to-coast that will free millions of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees from mandatory union payments. While this victory represents a massive step forward in the fight to protect American workers from forced unionism, that fight is far from over. Union officials and their allies in state government have already taken steps to prevent workers from exercising their rights under the Janus decision, while millions of private sector workers in states without Right to Work protections are still forced to pay union fees or else be fired. Further, workers of all stripes continue to have their freedoms of association violated by being forced under union monopoly ‘representation’ against their will. So while we celebrate today’s decision, there remains much work to do to both enforce and expand upon this historic victory over coercive unionism.”
Background: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME on Feb. 26, 2018. On the day of oral arguments, a large crowd of public school teachers, other government workers and supporters from across the country rallied outside the Supreme Court on Janus’ behalf, calling on the court to “Stand with Mark” and “Stand With Workers.”
Illinois is among 22 states that has required many government workers to pay union fees as a condition of employment. Plaintiff Mark Janus has worked for state government in Illinois as a child support specialist since 2007. Over the past decade, he was forced to pay thousands of dollars in union fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) – even though he opposes many of the union’s positions on public policy issues, felt he would be better off without the union’s so-called representation and was never asked if he wanted to be covered by a union contract. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in his favor, Janus will not be required to pay these union fees.
The fight over non-member union fees intensified in Illinois in 2015, when Gov. Bruce Rauner filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge in Chicago to declare non-member union fees unconstitutional. Lower courts ruled that the governor did not have standing to bring this suit because he personally was not required to pay union fees. That’s when state worker Mark Janus intervened in the lawsuit with the help of the Liberty Justice Center and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The case was renamed Janus v. AFSCME, and Janus was successful in taking this fight all the way to the highest court in the nation.
More information about the case is available at www.nrtw.org/janus.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys represent pro-Right to Work Kentucky employees who are opposed to forced union dues
Frankfort, KY (June 18, 2018) – On behalf of three of Kentucky workers, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have submitted a brief in the ongoing union boss legal challenge to Kentucky’s popular new Right to Work law.
Kentucky governor Matt Bevin signed the state’s Right to Work provisions into law on January 7, 2017, making Kentucky the nation’s 27th Right to Work state to protect workers from being forced to fund a labor union as a condition of employment. Under Right to Work, union membership and dues payment are strictly voluntary.
The Kentucky workers, with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger, won a motion to intervene in the case brought by union officials against the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Although the Commonwealth is also defending the law, the workers’ rights are at stake in the case because without Right to Work they could be forced to pay union fees against their will.
A Circuit Court dismissed the union officials’ challenge in January. The Kentucky Supreme Court decided to take the case earlier this year and is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on August 10.
The brief filed recently by pro-Right to Work Bluegrass State workers urges the court to uphold the lower court’s dismissal of the case and end Big Labor’s baseless challenge to the state’s Right to Work protections for workers.
“Right to Work laws have long been upheld by appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Union bosses’ arguments against Kentucky’s Right to Work law were rejected in the past and should be rejected again by the Kentucky Supreme Court,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation.
“Not only has Kentucky’s Right to Work law ensured that Bluegrass State workers have the right to choose whether or not to fund a labor union with their hard-earned money, but the state has benefited from record investment and job creation due to the law’s passage,” continued Mix. “It’s shameful that Kentucky union bosses want to undo all that, just to restore their power to have a worker fired for refusing to pay them a portion of their paycheck.”
National Right to Work Foundation Attorneys File Brief in Case Defending West Virginia Right to Work Law
Brief counters union lawyers’ claims that invalid injunction let them extend forced dues contracts after law went into effect
Charleston, WV (June 7, 2018) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus curiae brief with the Kanawha County Circuit Court. The brief urges the court to deny a motion made by union officials that would circumvent and undermine the protections afforded to workers by West Virginia’s Right to Work law.
The brief, filed in West Virginia AFL-CIO et al. v. Governor James C. Justice, et al. responds to union lawyers’ legally dubious arguments that union officials should be allowed to enforce forced dues contracts entered into during the pendency of an erroneous injunction against enforcing the state’s Right to Work law.
After West Virginia’s Right to Work law passed in February 2016, several state unions brought a lawsuit against the state. The Kanawha County Circuit Court issued a preliminary injunction against the law to prevent it from being enforced. However, the West Virginia Supreme Court later ruled that the Circuit Court was wrong to have granted the injunction in the first place.
The Right to Work law renders invalid all forced unionism clauses in union bargaining agreements entered into after July 1, 2016. After the injunction was dissolved, union lawyers asked the Circuit Court to exercise authority and give legal effect to such clauses in agreements entered into during the erroneous injunction’s pendency.
In the brief, Foundation staff attorneys argue that the Circuit Court cannot rewrite the date of the law’s application, allowing for workers to be forced to fund a union or be fired for years after the state’s legislature intended the law to go into effect.
Additionally, because the injunction was erroneous and is now dissolved, the Right to Work law is fully effective. Foundation attorneys argue that a wrongly-issued preliminary injunction does not give union officials any exemption to the law. The brief also explains that the Circuit Court’s validation of the clauses would decide the validity of an untold number of contracts in other jurisdictions throughout West Virginia concerning parties not even represented in the case, and therefore such an order would not be in the Circuit Court’s power.
“This lawsuit challenging West Virginia’s Right to Work law was always about creating confusion and uncertainty that union bosses could then exploit to seize more dues from workers against their will,” said National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “West Virginia’s popular new Right to Work law is a victory for workplace freedom, and it is long past time that Mountain State union bosses stop wasting dues money fighting dead-end legal challenges and start to work to provide services for which rank-and-file workers will voluntarily pay.”
Monte Carlo Bartender Wins Appeal After Losing Job Due to Collusive Deal to Force Her to Pay Union Officials for “Pour Card”
Labor Board General Counsel gives OK to investigate and prosecute UNITE HERE union officials’ scheme that discriminates against non-union members
Las Vegas, NV (May 30, 2018) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has sustained an appeal by a Las Vegas bartender who filed charges for being fired as a result of a collusive agreement between her employer and the local union. Natalie Ruisi filed the charges and appealed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Ruisi worked at Aramark Sports and Entertainment Services, a subcontractor for Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino. She, as well as several other Aramark employees, was discharged because she did not meet Monte Carlo’s requirement to pass a craft examination offered solely through the company union, Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas affiliated with UNITE HERE International (UNITE HERE).
Ruisi claims that the contract between Monte Carlo and UNITE HERE violates the National Labor Relations Act by requiring employees, including those who work for subcontractors, to take pre-hire classes from the union as a condition of employment. She alleges that the requirement unfairly discriminates and encourages membership in a labor organization.
In 2013, Monte Carlo and UNITE HERE entered into a monopoly bargaining agreement that her NLRB charges say illegally discriminated against workers who chose to exercise their right to refrain from formal union membership. The discrimination included requiring bartenders, even those who work for a subcontractor, to pass a craft examination that could only be obtained through union officials in order to acquire a “pour card” to work.
When Monte Carlo subcontracted to Aramark, UNITE HERE officials demanded that Monte Carlo discharge all Aramark employees who had not passed the union’s craft examination. Ruisi and 15 other employees, who as nonmembers did not know about the requirement until after they were hired, were discharged.
Although the NLRB Regional Director scheduled a trial with the intention of prosecuting the violation, at the last minute the charge was unexpectedly dismissed. Foundation staff attorneys appealed, and Trump-appointed NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb ruled that the Regional Director should investigate the case for violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The case has been remanded to the Regional Director for further action.
Nevada is a Right to Work state, with laws that protect individual workers’ rights to choose whether or not to join a union and pay union dues. Additionally, the National Labor Relations Act protects workers’ choice to refrain from union activities and prohibits employers from interfering with or coercing employees in violation of their rights.
“Ruisi is fighting for her right to choose whether or not to associate with a union – a right that, in addition to her rights under federal labor law, is codified and protected by Nevada’s Right to Work law,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Unfortunately, this type of illegal union scheme is widespread in Las Vegas, which is why this successful appeal is so important.”
“Other Las Vegas service industry workers facing similar situations should know that they can contact the National Right to Work Foundation to request free legal assistance,” added Mix.
Supreme Court Asked to Hear Case Seeking Return of Union Fees Seized in Scheme Invalidated in High Court’s 2014 Harris Decision
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys file brief for Illinois homecare providers who had $32 million seized by SEIU without their consent
Washington, DC (May 21, 2018) – Today staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed the final brief in Riffey v. Rauner asking the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari and hear the case. The home care providers for whom the case was brought had over $32 million in fees seized by union officials in a scheme the Supreme Court has already ruled violated the First Amendment. The case is now fully briefed and the Supreme Court could announce in June whether it will take the case.
The reply brief filed today counters the claims made in briefs by union officials and the Illinois Attorney General. Those briefs were filed only after the Supreme Court required the union and the attorney general to file briefs responding to Foundation attorneys’ initial petition for a writ of certiorari.
Riffey v. Rauner is a continuation of the Foundation-won Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn case. If the Court decides to hear Riffey, the Justices will consider whether a class of nonmember homecare providers should receive a refund of over $32 million that SEIU union officials seized from them without their consent.
Beginning with a 2003 executive order by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, tens of thousands of individual homecare providers were classified as “public employees” solely so they could be unionized by the SEIU and thus required to pay union fees. Many of these in-home care givers were parents caring for their own children in their own homes.
Staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation assisted eight of these providers in filing a federal class-action lawsuit, Harris v. Quinn, challenging the forced dues. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that SEIU’s forced dues scheme violated the First Amendment rights of the in-home care providers.
To settle remaining issues, the case was remanded to the District Court and re-designated as Riffey v. Rauner. The District Court ruled in 2016 that, even though the workers never consented to their money being taken for union fees, the SEIU did not have to refund the over $32 million in unconstitutional fees confiscated from union nonmembers.
Foundation attorneys are now asking the Court to take the case and determine whether the “government inflicts a First Amendment injury when it compels individuals to subsidize speech without their prior consent.” If the Court so rules, it would overturn the lower court’s reasoning denying the providers refunds of the seized fees.
Riffey is not the only case being litigated by Foundation staff attorneys related to whether individuals must take steps to “opt out” of dues the Supreme Court has already ruled they cannot be required to pay. In Hamidi v. SEIU, currently fully briefed at the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a group of California state employee nonmembers are challenging a union requirement that they must take an additional step to “opt out” of union dues the union admits are used for lawfully non-chargeable political activity.
“Union bosses assume that they’re entitled to a significant cut of workers’ hard-earned money when they force nonmembers to leap through bureaucratic hoops just to stop funding activities they didn’t sign up to fund in the first place,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Foundation will continue to fight for these homecare providers to get their illegally-seized money back.”
“If the Supreme Court agrees with the National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney who argued the Janus case heard earlier this term, challenges like Riffey and Hamidi will likely be the next big issue when it comes to fully protecting the constitutional rights of government employees from forced unionism,” added Mix. “Ultimately, the Supreme Court should make it clear that individuals who have never joined a union cannot be required to take affirmative steps just to protect their First Amendment rights.”