Tag: janus

SCOTUS declines to hear case seeking union fees reimbursement

SCOTUS declines to hear case seeking union fees reimbursement

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case last week that would require public sector unions to reimburse nonmember employees for the agency fees it collected from employees before the high court in 2018 deemed this arrangement to be unconstitutional.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mark Janus, a child support specialist from Illinois who challenged the constitutionality of his union collecting agency fees (or so-called “fair share fees”) on his behalf. On June 27, 2018, the high court ruled that public unions may not deduct dues, fees or other payments from a public employee without first obtaining their “affirmative consent.” The landmark decision affirmed the First Amendment rights of public employees, who can no longer be compelled to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.

The case declined by the court last week sought to revisit this decision and require public unions to reimburse nonmembers for the agency fees it collected from them prior to the decision. The case landed before the high court after it was dismissed by the federal district court and federal appeals court. Both courts determined the unions did not owe back pay to employees because they were acting in “good faith” at the time they charged nonmember fees, since the precedent nullifying agency fees had not yet been issued.

Jeffrey Schwab, an attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, said in a written statement that the organization is disappointed the Supreme Court did not hear the case.

“We are continuing to fight for back fees for government employees who paid money to unions against their will,” he said.

States should join Texas, Alaska in efforts to comply with Janus decision

States should join Texas, Alaska in efforts to comply with Janus decision

In the 2018 court case Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory union fees in the public sector violate public sector employees’ right to free speech. As a result, public sector unions, such as the AFSCME, cannot collect any fees associated with sustaining a union as a condition of employment. Despite this decision, many states continue to maintain rules that make it difficult for workers to choose whether they want to financially support a union. Alaska and Texas are changing this, and other states should join them.

The Janus v. AFSCME decision stated that government workers had to “affirmatively consent” before union fees could be deducted from their paychecks. But in many states, workers are not being clearly informed of their right to abstain from paying union fees. Additionally, workers who don’t want to support their union have been told they must wait until a limited period—sometimes as short as 10 days—after current collective bargaining agreements expire before they can opt out. These rules preclude workers from providing affirmative consent and are inconsistent with the Janus decision.

Continue reading at Forbes.com.

Janus, whose case ended mandatory union fees, wants Supreme Court’s help getting money back

Janus, whose case ended mandatory union fees, wants Supreme Court’s help getting money back

The plaintiff whose 2018 case led to a Supreme Court ruling that mandatory public union agency fees for nonmembers were unconstitutional is now asking the high court to force the union that represented him to return a portion of the money it collected before that decision.

In this most recent case, Janus v. AFSCME III, plaintiff Mark Janus is asking for the union to pay back fees it took from his paycheck before the landmark ruling in his 2018 case. He claims that the Supreme Court’s ruling should be retroactive, echoing other claims that have been made in federal court, including a sweeping class action that was filed in California last year.

Read more on FoxNews.com.

A Maine professor suing faculty union is appealing his case to the Supreme Court

A Maine professor suing faculty union is appealing his case to the Supreme Court

Jonathan Reisman, an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias, is appealing his case, Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine (AFUM), to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Friday, Jan. 2, The Buckeye Institute, the organization representing Reisman in his case, filed an appeal to SCOTUS calling for an end to laws in Maine and other states that force public-sector employees to accept compelled union representation. This process, called exclusive representation (a policy for which unions advocate), prevents nonmember employees in a bargaining unit from representing themselves in matters with their employer.

In 2018, the high court ruled in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that public employees cannot be required to pay dues or fees to a labor union as a condition of employment. Before Janus, nonmember public employees were compelled to pay “agency fees” to a union for the cost of the organization’s representational activities concerning the employee, despite rejecting the union’s representation by refusing to join or opting out of membership.

SCOTUS ruled this practice violates the First Amendment rights of public employees. Reisman is asking the high court to consider exclusive representation laws under the same principle. If compelled payments to a union violate a public employee’s First Amendment rights, compelled representation must also violate employee’s rights.

“Professor Reisman is a hardworking public employee who has for many years been forced to associate with a union with which he disagrees and suffer it to speak for him,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute and a lead attorney on the case. “If state law cannot compel public employees to financially support union advocacy — as the court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME — how can states require these same public employees to accept representation from unions that many of them have chosen not to join? These are serious questions about the constitutionality of exclusive representation — questions which the U.S. Supreme Court needs to address.”

“Despite resigning his union membership, Professor Reisman is required by Maine law be represented by a union with which he does not agree and of which he is not a member,” said Andrew M. Grossman, a partner at BakerHostetler in Washington, D.C., and counsel of record on the Reisman v. AFUM petition. “Following the Court’s landmark Janus ruling, it is clear that these laws are unconstitutional, and we hope the Court will recognize them as such.”

Reisman formerly served as a grievance officer with his union before resigning his membership after the Janus decision. His former union, AFUM, is affiliated with the Maine Education Association and the National Education Association, which has taken political stances that Reisman finds objectionable.

While the outcome of Janus freed him from the requirement of either joining the union or being forced to pay representation fees, Maine law still forces AFUM to be Reisman’s exclusive representative, meaning he is still associated with the positions the union takes.

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear Reisman’s case and rules in his favor, the First Amendment rights of public employees to represent themselves in matters with their employer would be restored. The end result is true freedom of speech and association, not compelled speech and association as required by state labor law.

The Buckeye Institute is also representing public employees in other post-Janus lawsuits throughout the country, including Kathy Uradnik of St. Cloud State University in Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization and Jade Thompson, a Spanish teacher in Ohio, in Thompson v. Marietta Education Association.

Maine’s Legislative Council votes to undermine the First Amendment rights of public employees

Maine’s Legislative Council votes to undermine the First Amendment rights of public employees

The Legislative Council on Wednesday met to vote on nearly 400 bills submitted by lawmakers for consideration in the second session. Despite a number of non-emergencies being admitted into the second session, lawmakers turned down a bill where an emergency case actually exists.

The bill request, LR 2828, sponsored by Rep. Dick Bradstreet of Vassalboro, would have brought state law into compliance with the Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, the high court ruled that public employees cannot be compelled to pay dues or fees to a labor union without first affirmatively consenting to pay. The ruling states:

“The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them. Accordingly, neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”

Currently, Maine law is at odds with the SCOTUS ruling. In the collective bargaining laws governing municipal public employees, state employees, University of Maine System employees and judicial employees, state statute says a public employee can refrain from joining a union, “except that an employee may be required to pay to the organization that is the bargaining agent for the employee a service fee that represents the employee’s pro rata share of those expenditures that are gemaine to the organizations representational activity.”

These four sections of law must be changed because, under Janus, an employee cannot be required to pay fair share fees. Fees, dues and other payments can only be deducted if a worker affirmatively consents to pay.

The legislative request failed on Wednesday by a 6-4 vote, with Reps. Kathleen Dillingham and Trey Stewart, and Sens. Jeff Timberlake and Dana Dow voting in favor while Reps. Matt Moonen and Ryan Fecteau and Sens. Nate Libby and Eloise Vitelli voted in opposition. House Speaker Sara Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson also voted against the measure.

LR 2828 should be accepted into the second session and easily passed because conforming to federal labor law is not a partisan issue. State law currently violates the First Amendment rights of public employees, whose rights were also under assault in the first session. Public sector unions and their allies in the Maine Legislature are doing everything they can to prevent public employees from understanding their First Amendment rights under Janus, and by denying this request on Wednesday, are actually undermining constitutional protections for public employees.