Notice explains that workers under OCSEA union power can freely cut off union dues deductions, warns employees against signing away their rights
Columbus, OH (August 6, 2020) – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys today issued a special legal notice to State of Ohio employees regarding their First Amendment rights under the Janus v. AFSCME US Supreme Court case. The notice comes after an estimated 28,000 State of Ohio workers were freed of restrictions in exercising those rights as a result of a lawsuit against the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA, AFSCME Council 11) union brought by a group of State of Ohio employees with free legal representation from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The class-action lawsuit Allen v. AFSCME challenged OCSEA’s “maintenance of membership” policy that blocked workers from exercising their right to end union dues deductions except for a brief “escape period” once every three years at the expiration of the union monopoly bargaining contract.
Right to Work attorneys argued that the restriction was unconstitutional under the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision, which was argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys. In Janus, the Court struck down mandatory union fees for public sector workers as an infringement of their First Amendment rights. It also ruled that the government can only deduct union dues or fees with an individual’s affirmative consent, including a knowing waiver of their First Amendment right not to fund union activities.
As a result of this lawsuit’s settlement, union officials have given up their attempts to enforce the coercive policy based on union-designed “dues deduction” cards, which Foundation staff attorneys argued failed to meet the standard laid out in Janus. This means approximately 28,000 workers are now free to stop dues at any time.
The full notice is available at https://www.nrtw.org/ohio-janus/.
The notice explains the simple process by which state employees can exercise their right to end dues deductions, complete with sample resignation letters. It also warns employees that OCSEA union bosses may solicit them to sign new dues deduction forms which are not covered by the terms of the settlement. In light of that, the notice reminds workers that under Janus no State of Ohio worker can be forced to sign a union dues deduction form as a condition of employment, no matter what union agents may tell them.
“OCSEA intends to solicit employees to sign new membership and dues deduction cards that purport to restrict when employees can stop the deduction of union dues from their wages,” the notice reads.
“All State of Ohio public workers must be aware that they cannot be forced into abandoning their First Amendment right to refrain from subsidizing an unwanted union hierarchy just to keep their jobs,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Any State of Ohio public servant who is falsely told that they must sign a union dues deduction form should contact the Foundation for free legal assistance in defending their Janus rights.”
The recent settlement is not the only time Ohio public employees have with National Right to Work Foundation legal aid successfully challenged union boss attempts to limit their rights.
Seven other Ohio public employees won the first-in-the-nation victory against unconstitutional “escape periods” with Foundation aid in January 2019, after they filed a class-action federal lawsuit challenging a similar policy created by AFSCME Council 8 bosses. They won a settlement ending the restrictions for themselves and their coworkers. That win was followed by two other Ohio public workers, Connie Pennington and Donna Fizer, successfully ending “escape period” restrictions with Foundation assistance in 2019.
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.