Union officials misled worker and ignored revocation request in attempt to deduct dues for entire school year over employee’s clear objection
Cincinnati, OH (February 10, 2023) – Southwest Public Schools employee Richard Koch has filed charges against the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4) union, telling the Ohio State Employee Relations Board (SERB) that union officials have unlawfully locked him into an entire school year of union dues deductions against his will. Staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation represent him for free.
Koch, who is not a union member, charges that OAPSE union bosses are arbitrarily restricting the time in which school employees can exercise their right to cut off union dues deductions to less than 3% of the year. He further explains that OAPSE officials continue seizing dues from any employee who misses the tiny, unilaterally-imposed “window period” to opt out of dues deductions, rather than acknowledging the request and effectuating it at the next “window period.”
Koch argues that state law prohibits OAPSE officials’ behavior, including the Ohio statute protecting public employees’ right to “refrain from forming, joining, assisting, or participating in” a union. Public employees also have a First Amendment right under the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision to refrain from paying union dues to a union they oppose.
OAPSE Union Officials Force School Employee to Pay Entire School Year’s Worth of Dues Despite Resignation
Koch sent a letter to OAPSE union officials on June 4, 2022, resigning his union membership and requesting that dues deductions from his paycheck cease. A union official replied to Koch later that month, telling him that his request to stop dues was “untimely,” but not informing him of the appropriate time in which to submit a revocation request.
After the 2022-2023 school year began, OAPSE union officials continued to take full union dues from his wages. Koch questioned school officials about why dues deductions were continuing despite his resignation. In October 2022, five months after Koch sent his resignation letter, a school administrator forwarded him an email from OAPSE representative John Horn explaining that union dues revocation requests are only accepted within a narrow 10-day window each year.
No union official informed Koch of this restriction, and at the time Koch indirectly found out about it, the “window period” (which was in August) had already passed. The union is now attempting to illegally seize dues from his paycheck for an entire school year instead of simply honoring Koch’s revocation request.
In addition to illegally restraining his right to abstain from union activities, Koch argues, OAPSE union bosses also violated Ohio law by deliberately concealing the actual dates in which he could cut off dues, and by not telling the school to stop taking dues from his paycheck, despite their knowledge of his desire to stop paying.
Foundation President: OAPSE Union Officials Value Dues Revenue Over Employees’ Rights
Koch seeks to stop all dues deductions from his paycheck, and force OAPSE union officials to return all dues seized illegally from his paycheck since he sent in his resignation letter. If Koch’s case is successful, it could set a precedent requiring Ohio union officials to honor every revocation request.
“Mr. Koch’s case shows that OAPSE union officials don’t even pretend to care about the rights of workers who disagree with them, and will readily violate those rights if it means the union can fill its coffers with more of those employees’ money,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Beyond blatantly violating Ohio law, OAPSE union officials are also ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court’s First Amendment command in the Janus v. AFSCME decision that union officials can only take union dues from workers who have affirmatively consented to support the union.”
Foundation attorneys scored a significant victory for Ohio public servants’ Janus rights in a 2020 lawsuit against another Ohio AFSCME affiliate, Council 11. Rather than face off against Foundation attorneys, those AFSCME union officials backed down and settled the case. As a result, Foundation attorneys freed almost 30,000 Ohio public employees from a “maintenance of membership” scheme that limited the exercise of Janus rights to roughly once every three years.
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 about 200 cases nationwide per year.