Columbus, OH -- Three Kent State University workers have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that union dues were illegally deducted from their paychecks (download a copy of the complaint).
Annamarie Hannay and Adda Grape are custodians for student residence halls at Kent State University. Since they started working at the university, they were required to pay money to AFSCME, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. However, in August 2018, each of them resigned their union membership and requested that Kent State stop deducting union dues from their paychecks.
Despite the decisive victory for workers' rights in the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision, AFSCME refused to honor the resignations of these employees outside of arbitrary opt-out periods. Kent State University continued to deduct dues from the workers' paychecks without their affirmative consent.
Hannay, Grape, and their coworker John Kohl are now suing to exercise their "Janus rights" with the help of attorneys from The Buckeye Institute, which also represents plaintiffs in Maine, Minnesota, and Ohio in cases to end forced union exclusive representation, and the Liberty Justice Center, a nonprofit law firm that represented the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME.
"AFSCME is putting money before workers. The union is violating workers' constitutional rights by denying their resignations in order to keep collecting dues," said Patrick Hughes, president and co-founder of the Liberty Justice Center. "Kent State is supporting the interests of a government union above the workers who serve their students every day."
In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus that government employers may not withhold union dues or fees from employees' paychecks without their affirmative consent. Prior to the Janus decision, employees were given an unconstitutional choice: pay the union as a member or pay the union as a nonmember. Now that workers' First Amendment right to choose has been recognized, any permission to deduct dues given before June 27, 2018, should be null and void.
"I'm being forced to pay the union for more than a year after I first submitted my resignation and withdrew any permission to deduct dues from my paycheck," said Annamarie Hannay, who pays almost $600 each year to AFSCME. "I sent in my resignation to the union and Kent State in August 2018. Since then, not only has my resignation been denied, but I've also received confusing and contradictory messages from the union about when I could finally stop paying them money from every paycheck."
"Annamarie and Adda are asking the court to rule against this egregious and ongoing violation of their First Amendment rights, which-to date-their union has refused to acknowledge," said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute. "The U.S. Supreme Court spoke plainly in its Janus ruling that unions must obtain 'clear and compelling evidence' that a worker has consented to be a member of the union. In this case, AFSCME has not done so. In fact, Annamarie and Adda have resigned their memberships and made it plainly known that they do not want to be members of the union."
Founded in 1989, The Buckeye Institute is an independent research and educational institution - a think tank - whose mission is to advance free-market public policy in the states. The Buckeye Institute filed the first significant First Amendment labor-law challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court following the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision. Buckeye's case pending cert before the U.S. Supreme Court, Uradnik v. Inter Faculty Organization, calls for an immediate end to laws that force public-sector employees to accept a union's exclusive representation. Buckeye is also representing other plaintiffs in Maine and Ohio in their efforts to end forced union exclusive representation. Learn more about The Buckeye Institute at BuckeyeInstitute.org.
The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest litigation center that was founded to fight against political privilege. The most notable example of the Liberty Justice Center's success in this arena is its 2018 U.S. Supreme Court victory in Janus v. AFSCME. Beyond its work in the Janus case, the Liberty Justice Center's team of talented, liberty-minded attorneys are also fighting to protect economic liberty, private property rights, free speech and other fundamental rights. The Liberty Justice Center pursues its goals through strategic, precedent-setting litigation to revitalize constitutional restraints on government power and protections for individual rights. Learn more about the Liberty Justice Center's fight to restore workers' First Amendment rights at standwithworkers.org, and about the organization itself at LibertyJusticeCenter.org.