Illinois Homecare Assistants Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case Seeking Ruling That First Amendment Is Violated When Union Dues Are Seized Without an Individual’s Consent
Providers denied refunds of $32 million in union fees which the High Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn were seized in an unconstitutional scheme
Washington, DC (January 9, 2018) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to hear a case that could determine whether individuals’ First Amendment rights can be limited by union opt-out procedures. In the case, thousands of homecare providers are being denied refunds of over $30 million seized by union officials without their consent.
The case stems from an executive order issued by former Governor Rod Blagojevich that classified more than 80,000 individuals who receive state subsidies to provide in-home care to disabled persons as “public employees” solely for the purpose of the providers being unionized and required to pay union fees. As a result, these in-home care givers, many of them parents caring for their own children, were unionized through an SEIU “card-check” union organizing drive.
Staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation assisted eight of these providers in filing a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the forced dues seizures. The High Court took the case and, on June 30, 2014, it ruled that SEIU’s forced dues scheme imposed by Governor Blagojevich is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights of the in-home care providers.
After the Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling in Harris v. Quinn – now designated Riffey v. Rauner – the case was remanded to the District Court to settle the remaining issues, including whether SEIU would be required to return more than $32 million in dues confiscated from nonmembers through its unconstitutional scheme.
In June 2016, the District Court ruled that, despite the Supreme Court ruling in Harris, the SEIU did not have to repay these funds on a class-wide basis. That decision was appealed to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals where Foundation staff attorneys argued the case in May 2017. The Appeals Court ruled that even though these workers never consented to their money being taken for forced dues, their First Amendment Rights were not violated. Foundation staff attorneys now ask the Court to determine whether the “government inflicts a First Amendment injury when it compels individuals to subsidize speech without their prior consent.”
The petition can be found here.
“The Supreme Court’s Harris decision ruled that forcing homecare providers to subsidize union speech violates their First Amendment rights,” stated NRTW President Mark Mix. “This petition asks the High Court to further clarify its Harris ruling, by making it clear that individuals who have never joined a union cannot be required to take affirmative steps just to protect those Constitutional rights.”
“An individual’s First Amendment rights should never be limited by bureaucratic opt-out procedures,” continued Mix. “With the Supreme Court considering the Constitutionality of mandatory union fees for all public employees next month in the Foundation’s Janus case, this issue could be critical in protecting the freedom of speech of millions of Americans.”
Springfield, VA – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has issued a Special Legal Notice for all temporary workers during the Holiday Season who may be unaware of the rules and laws surrounding forced unionism and forced union dues.
Often times, union officials mislead individuals about their legal rights to refrain from union membership and payment of union dues or fees. This is especially true when it comes to temporary or seasonal employees. Under federal law, workers cannot be forced to pay any money to a union during their first 30 days of employment.
When employees are misinformed about their rights, they can end up paying their entire paycheck to union officials as one National Right to Work Foundation-aided worker found.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement regarding this legal notice:
“Each year during the Holiday Season, union bosses play the role of Grinches by seizing the paychecks of temporary workers trying to earn some extra money for themselves and their families around the holidays. ”
“Temporary workers should be wary of deceitful tactics used by union officials, and even some employers, designed to fill union coffers with dues money that workers cannot be required to pay. All temporary workers should read the Foundation’s legal notice to ensure their legal rights are not being violated and contact our Foundation attorneys for free legal aid if they suspect their rights have been infringed upon.”
Please read the Foundation’s Special Legal Notice for temporary workers here.
Worker Files Opening Brief in Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Case Seeking to Strike Down Forced Union Fees
Worker Advocate: It is time for the Court to recognize that the First Amendment protects public employees from being forced to subsidize union speech
Washington, DC (November 29, 2017) – Today, attorneys for Illinois public servant Mark Janus filed the first merits brief in the Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME. The brief asks the High Court to recognize that the First Amendment protects public workers from being required to make payments to union officials as a condition of working for their own government.
Plaintiff Mark Janus is an Illinois child support specialist who filed the challenge with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center. Janus is currently required to pay union fees to AFSCME union officials even though he opposes many of the positions union officials advocate using his money and feels he would be better off without the union’s so-called representation.
In the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, a divided High Court ruled that public employees could not be required to subsidize many political and ideological union activities; however the court left in place forced fees used to subsidize union monopoly bargaining with the government. In a series of cases in the last five years the Supreme Court has begun to question the theory underpinning Abood.
In the National Right to Work Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014) cases, the Supreme Court made clear that mandatory union payments invoke the highest level of First Amendment protection. In Janus, Mark Janus asks the Supreme Court to apply this heightened scrutiny to all mandatory union payments required of government employees.
If the High Court rules in Janus’ favor, over 5 million public school teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government employees who currently are forced to pay money to union officials just to keep their jobs would be free to decide individually whether or not to make voluntary union payments. Oral arguments in the case are now expected to occur in late February.
“Forced union fees remain the largest regime of compelled speech in the nation,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Forty years ago in Abood, the Supreme Court erroneously left forced fees in place citing the artificial distinction between union officials’ ideological activities and union bargaining with the government that inherently seeks to alter public policy.”
“Now that the Janus case is being briefed for argument at the High Court, we are hopeful that in the coming months the Supreme Court will correct this anomaly in First Amendment jurisprudence by striking down all mandatory union payments for public workers,” continued Mix. “Americans shouldn’t forfeit their First Amendment protections just to work for their own government.”
“Government workers like Mark Janus shouldn’t have to pay for union politics just to keep their jobs,” said Jacob Huebert, director of litigation at the Liberty Justice Center. “The First Amendment gives everyone the right to choose which political groups they will and won’t support with their money.”
Public-Sector Worker Files Lawsuit Challenging Forced Union Dues Payments as Violation of First Amendment Rights in Puerto Rico
P.R. Aqueduct and Sewer Authority employee’s lawsuit against union officials and Governor’s office for illegal forced dues seizures
San Juan, PR (November 28, 2017) – Utilizing free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a Puerto Rican Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) employee in San Juan, PR has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of public sector union officials’ forced dues powers.
The case argues that Puerto Rico’s labor law requiring the plaintiff employee to join the union and pay union dues as a condition of government employment violates his First Amendment rights. Reynaldo Cruz is a PRASA plant operator who has been forced to pay union dues despite attempting to exercise his right to resign from Unión Independiente Auténtica De Los Empleados De La Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillados union (UIA) last year.
Late last year, Cruz sent letters to UIA and PRASA resigning his union membership and objecting to the payment of the portion of forced dues that are used for UIA’s political and ideological activities. Cruz cited his First Amendment rights under the National Right to Work Foundation-won Supreme Court case Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, including the right to pay reduced dues.
UIA officials responded rejecting his request, informing Cruz that if he wished to cease his union membership and stop paying dues, then he must end his employment with PRASA or seek a position outside their monopoly bargaining unit. Union officials and PRASA bosses continued deducting money from Cruz’s paycheck for full forced union dues as a condition of employment.
On April 4 of this year, Cruz’s Foundation-provided staff attorney sent union and PRASA officials a notice requesting back pay for dues illegally taken as well immediate cessation of all dues deductions from Cruz’s paycheck. UIA officials and PRASA administrators denied Cruz’s requests, citing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s statutes authorizing “all-union agreements” and “maintenance of membership agreements.”
In response, Cruz is suing UIA officials and PRASA administrators for infringing upon his rights recognized by the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent. Because Cruz is challenging the constitutionality of PR statutes, he has also named the Governor of Puerto Rico in his suit.
In addition to asking the union to respect his rights under the Hudson precedent, Cruz is also asking the court to rule that forced payment of any union dues or fees violates his First Amendment rights. That issue is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-backed Janus v. AFSCME case. Janus was filed for an Illinois government employee, Mark Janus, who is forced to pay dues to AFSCME union officials.
Janus is expected to be argued in January, with a decision likely by the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June. Cruz’s case joins six other ongoing Foundation-backed cases challenging mandatory union payments for government employees as a violation of the First Amendment.
“This case shows the lengths to which union officials will go to extort every last cent from workers they claim to ‘represent’, even in clear violation of long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Every American worker, whether in the 50 states or in Puerto Rico, should have Right to Work protections that ensure that union membership and dues payment are strictly voluntary.”
Hospital Employees Ask NLRB to Overturn Ruling Forcing Them Under SEIU Representation Despite Overwhelming Opposition
Employees file motion to intervene to challenge Labor Board ‘accretion’ doctrine used to impose SEIU monopoly bargaining on them against their will
Lehigh Valley, PA (November 13, 2017) – With legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, employees at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill East filed a motion with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC to intervene in a case to assert that their rights were violated when Service Employees International Union (SEIU) “representation” was imposed on them against their will.
The 160 workers at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill East were not given a choice whether or not to be placed under SEIU monopoly bargaining power. Recently, an NLRB Regional Director ordered workers at Schuylkill East be added to the bargaining unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill South.
In 2016, employees at Schuylkill East completely rejected SEIU officials’ attempts to unionize their workplace, with SEIU organizers failing to even file a petition for an election, which would require the signatures of 30% of the hospital workers. However, employees at the nearby separate facility, Schuylkill South, have been unionized for several decades. But, neither SEIU organizers nor NLRB officials have ever produced evidence of Schuylkill East employees’ desire for any kind of union representation.
Nevertheless, in October NLRB Regional Director Dennis Walsh ordered that Schuylkill East workers should be forced into the slightly larger Schuylkill South monopoly bargaining unit, citing the NLRB’s ‘accretion’ policy. The workers at Schuylkill East were never given a vote and were accreted into an unwanted organization for the convenience of union officials.
Walsh previously had been suspended one month without pay by the NLRB, following an Inspector General’s investigation into Walsh for using his position with the NLRB to solicit contributions to a pro-union scholarship fund from union officials from unions with cases at the Labor Board. Reports indicate that the SEIU was one of the unions that made payments to Walsh’s fund.
The employees have now moved to intervene and requested review of the Regional Director’s decision at the NLRB in Washington, DC. They are asking that they be made a party to the case, because it is their freedoms and rights at stake. Specifically, they seek to challenge the accretion order, which imposes forced unionization on them against their will.
“This case demonstrates how the National Labor Relations Act, which is ostensibly about the rights of employees, has been weaponized against independent workers who wish to remain free of union bosses’ so-called representation,” said Mark Mix president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These employees successfully opposed an SEIU organizing campaign at their workplace only to have a union partisan at the NLRB force the union on them without a vote or any showing of interest.”
“Like so many pro-forced unionism NLRB policies, the ‘accretion doctrine’ is not mandated by the National Labor Relations Act but is the creation of Board bureaucrats seeking to further the interests of union organizers,” continued Mix. “This case gives the new Trump NLRB the opportunity overturn this outrageous doctrine that is being used to trap workers in a union they never asked for and successfully opposed only a year ago.”
Special Notice to Public Employees: How to Protect Your Rights in Advance of Ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Case
National Right to Work Foundation offers free legal aid to public sector employees ahead of court case that could end forced union fees
Washington, DC (October 24, 2017) – On September 28, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Janus v. AFSCME, which challenges mandatory union fees for public employees as a violation of the First Amendment. If the High Court agrees with Janus and his Foundation staff attorneys, the ruling would create a precedent protecting every public employee from being forced to subsidize union activities, including teachers, police officers and firefighters who currently pay mandatory dues or fees.
Mark Janus, an Illinois civil servant childcare worker, filed the case with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center. Oral arguments in the case are expected to occur in January 2018 with a ruling most likely in June 2018. National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger will argue for Janus at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fearing a ruling against forced union dues, union officials nationwide are already responding with schemes designed to limit the ability of workers to utilize a ruling that they can no longer be required to pay union dues or fees. In some instances union organizers are pushing workers to sign cards that authorize dues payments in perpetuity “irrespective of union membership” unless the worker revokes the authorization in a union-determined two week period.
Although Foundation staff attorneys question the legality of such cards, the special legal notice reminds workers that signing such a card could limit their legal options later. Workers should be very cautious about signing anything from a union, no matter the reason union officials give. In many documented instances, especially during coercive union card check campaigns, union organizers have solicited signatures under misleading or false pretenses.
The full notice can be found online at: http://www.nrtw.org/Janus-Legal-Notice
Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation released the following statement regarding the notice and offer of free legal aid.
“Unfortunately, there is a long history of union officials refusing to accept limits on their forced dues powers. Rather than respect the decisions of workers who do not want to subsidize union activities, invariably after Foundation-won legal precedents or enactment of state Right to Work laws, union officials attempt to block the very workers they claim to represent from exercising their rights.
“Given that a Foundation win in the Janus case could free 5.2 million teachers and other public employees from forced union payments, it is not surprising to see that Big Labor is already working overtime to prevent workers from escaping forced dues. In response, Foundation staff attorneys have issued a special legal notice, warning workers against signing any new dues authorizations that could later limit their options. Every worker should know they can turn to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for free legal assistance and advice in their battle against Big Labor.”