Union officials tried to mask forced fees outlawed by Janus Supreme Court decision as “agreement administration fees”
Cincinnati, OH (April 30, 2021) – City of Hamilton employee Timothy Crane has successfully defended his First Amendment right to refrain from funding the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 20 hierarchy in his workplace.
Crane, who is not a union member, filed a lawsuit in December 2020 with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys that challenged so-called “agreement administration fees” that IUOE officials forced him to pay as a condition of keeping his job. Legal documents now confirm that IUOE bosses have backed down from enforcing the deceptive dues scheme and have also refunded to Crane all dues that they seized from him under it.
Crane’s lawsuit maintained that the “agreement administration fee” requirement violated his rights under the Foundation-argued 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. In Janus, the High Court ruled that no public worker can be coerced into paying union dues or fees as a condition of getting or keeping a job. The Court also held that union dues or fees can only be deducted from a public employee’s paycheck if that employee clearly and affirmatively waives his or her constitutional right not to pay. Justice Alito wrote for the Court majority that “such a waiver cannot be presumed” by union or state officials.
According to Crane’s lawsuit, he sent letters to IUOE union officials in both August and September of last year attempting to exercise his First Amendment Janus right to end dues deductions from his paycheck. After sending these two letters, he discovered that an “agreement administration fee” was being taken from his pay by the City at the behest of IUOE union bosses.
The complaint contended that that this fee was just a so-called “agency fee” – a forced union payment charged to employees who refrain from formal union membership that was definitively outlawed by the Janus v. AFSCME decision – masquerading under a different name.
With this victory, Crane’s suit is now the fifth resolved favorably by Foundation staff attorneys for Buckeye State employees who have sought to defend their First Amendment Janus rights from union boss wrongdoing. This includes the July 2020 settlement in the Allen v. AFSCME case, in which nearly 30,000 Ohio public employees were freed from an “escape period” scheme imposed by Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) union chiefs, which limited to just a handful of days every few years the time in which a public employee could exercise his or her Janus rights.
“Once again, a Foundation-backed Ohio public employee has prevailed over a duplicitous attempt by union officials to keep worker money flowing illegally into their pockets while trampling workers’ First Amendment rights,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Any Ohio public workers who are subjected to similar arrangements, or are coerced or intimidated by union bosses in any other way into funding a union agenda against their will should contact the Foundation for free assistance in defending their First Amendment Janus rights.”
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 around 250 cases nationwide per year.