Wallingford-Swarthmore school bus driver seeks return of forced dues seized in violation of Supreme Court First Amendment decision
Philadelphia, PA (September 27, 2018) – Yesterday afternoon, a school bus driver in Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation against Teamsters Local 312 and his employer, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, for violating his constitutional rights by continuing to seize forced dues from his paycheck in violation of the Supreme Court’s recent Janus v. AFSCME decision.
The driver, Michael Mayer, is seeking a refund of union fees automatically taken out of his paycheck after he resigned his union membership, along with an injunction against the school district.
Mr. Mayer resigned his union membership on July 20, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Janus decision. The Court ruled that requiring public employees to pay mandatory union dues or fees violates the First Amendment. In August, Mayer exercised his rights under Janus by hand-delivering to his employer a notice revoking his authorization for the District to deduct dues from his paycheck.
However, the Teamsters union refused to honor his resignation, and the District continued withdrawing dues from Mr. Mayer’s paycheck. Union officials cited a section of the Pennsylvania Public Employee Relations Act (PERA), which states that employees may only resign membership within fifteen days before a new monopoly contract is signed. Mayer’s lawsuit says this section of the PERA violates his rights as recognized by the Janus decision.
In the Janus case, which was briefed and argued at the Supreme Court by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the Supreme Court ruled that, unless public sector workers affirmatively consent to paying union dues or fees and knowingly waive their First Amendment right not to subsidize a labor union, the collection of dues or fees violates their constitutional rights.
In a similar case filed earlier this month, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys sued for a California state court employee who, like Mr. Mayer, resigned his union membership to exercise his rights under Janus only to be blocked from doing so by union officials and his government employer. In addition, Foundation staff attorneys are assisting workers in over a dozen legal actions across the country enforcing employees’ rights under Janus.
“Thanks to the Foundation-won Janus decision, workers like Mr. Mayer are finally free to exercise their constitutional rights and make their own decisions on whether or not to support a union,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Unfortunately, though not unsurprisingly, rather than work to earn the voluntary support of the workers they claim to represent, union officials coast-to-coast are resorting to illegal schemes to block workers from exercising their rights under the Janus decision.”
To inform workers of their legal rights under Janus, and ensure they know they can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid in the event union officials attempt to obstruct them from exercising those rights, the Foundation launched a special website: MyJanusRights.org
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.