A new round of lawsuits is developing over unions that take dues from workers who are not members.
It’s the fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal workers, which ruled government unions cannot require workers to be members and pay dues.
The decision in June eliminated the longtime practice of unions padding their revenues from the dues of objectors.
But some unions apparently still are figuring out how to apply the decision.
In one case brought by the Fairness Center, which battles union overreach, Cheryl A. Spano Lonis sued her union for refusing to recognize her resignation from union membership.
She resigned after reconnecting with her church and concluding that her religious beliefs conflicted with her support for the union and its activities.
“The union ignored her resignation, however, for nearly three years, and the state of Connecticut continued collecting full union dues from her wages during that time. It did so even though the collective bargaining agreement between her union and the state provided that religious objectors could resign union membership and to donate an amount of union fees equivalent to union dues to charity,” the center explained.
The union also never provided her with constitutionally required notices and procedures, the center said.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on the issue, Lonis, a nurse practitioner, has gone to court to enforce her right to not be a part of Service Employees International Union District 1199 New England.
“Union officials treated me like an ATM,” she said in a statement. “They ignored their own rules, violated my rights, and misused my money. I did everything I could to ensure my money wasn’t used by union officials for purposes that violate my moral and religious beliefs.”
The Washington Free Beacon reported she was joined in the case by William Neely, who contends union officials have refused to let him out of the organization and continue taking money.
Neely, a Pennsylvania-based psychiatric aide, is in court against the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 13.
“Neely was a dues paying member of the organization for 15 years before requesting to cut ties in July, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled that government agencies could no longer require paying union fees as a condition of employment. The union, according to the suit, has continued to deduct from Neely’s paychecks because its contract does not honor resignation until June 2019,” the Free Beacon said.
His complaint states, “Mr. Neely spoke about his resignation by telephone with various AFSCME and Council 13 officials and staff representatives who acknowledged receipt of Mr. Neely’s resignation letters but told Mr. Neely that he could not resign.”
His employer told him it could not stop deducting dues and giving his money to a union without union authorization.
The report said both lawsuits, by the Fairness Center, allege the courts must honor resignation requests so as not to infringe on the right to free association.
“Fairness Center President David Osborne said each case highlights union resistance to workers exercising their rights as employees and U.S. citizens,” the report said.
Both cases ask for a refund of the years of dues, and unions in several other states already are facing similar demands for refunds.
One local, SEIU 503 in Oregon, hastily agreed to a settlement of $3,000 to a former member in the hope of avoiding a lawsuit that could set a precedent for vastly bigger claim amounts.