State worker currently forced to fund SEIU union hierarchy that spent over $50k attacking her husband, an Oregon state legislator
Eugene, OR (April 26, 2018) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have just filed a lawsuit at the United States District Court for the District of Oregon on behalf of Debora Nearman, a public employee. Nearman’s complaint argues that the compulsory union fees she is forced to pay violate her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Nearman objects to being required to financially support and associate with an organization that opposes her personal views, including her religious beliefs and her husband’s public service.
Nearman, an employee at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, is not a union member but is still forced to pay compulsory fees to Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 as a condition of her employment. Her case challenges the constitutionality of mandatory union fees as a condition of government employment. Nearman argues that her money is being spent by SEIU on public policy positions that violate her political and religious stances.
In the 2016 general election, Nearman’s husband, Mike Nearman, successfully ran for State Representative in the Oregon Legislature. During the campaign, the SEIU local union that she is forced to fund spent over $53,000 to run an aggressive campaign against him, including distributing disparaging fliers. Additionally, the complaint notes that the SEIU hierarchy takes positions on political issues that conflict with Nearman’s sincerely held religious beliefs.
The complaint is one of many suits across the country in which Foundation attorneys are challenging the wrongly decided 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Abood that public-sector workers could be compelled as a condition of employment to pay union fees for bargaining-related purposes, the Court suggested it was ready to revisit the issue in two recent Foundation-won Supreme Court decisions (Knox v. SEIU in 2012 and Harris v. Quinn in 2014).
In the pending Janus v. AFSCME case, argued by a Foundation attorney in February, the Supreme Court is reconsidering the constitutionality of the Abood precedent. A decision in Janus is expected by the end of June.
“It is wrong that Nearman has been forced by her state government to subsidize an organization that dragged her husband’s name through the mud,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union bosses seize workers’ hard-earned money to support issues that violate the workers’ consciences, which is contrary to the heart of the First Amendment.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.