Union Bosses Retreat in Lawsuit Challenging Scheme to Block Workers’ Janus Rights

A union member holds a sign during a rally outside of San Francisco City Hall on February
Justin Sullivan/Getty

A group of Ohio public sector employees has won in a settlement with union officials who attempted to block workers from exercising their First Amendment right to refrain from paying dues that support the union.

Facing a class action lawsuit brought by the National Right to Work (NRTW) Legal Defense Foundation, officials of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Ohio Council 8 have decided to settle and agree to end their “window period” policy that blocked thousands of workers from implementing their constitutional right to refrain from handing over dues to the union.

In the wake of NRTW Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court, the public sector workers all attempted to resign their union membership and revoke their authorizations for automatic dues deductions. According to a press release from NRTW, however, AFSCME officials “continued to deduct dues, citing a union policy restricting revocation of dues deduction to a narrow 15-day window prior to the expiration of a monopoly bargaining contract.”

As a result of the settlement, the workers will be refunded the money taken from them under AFSCME’s “window period” policy.

“This group of workers bravely challenged union bosses’ ‘window period’ scheme, and successfully protected not only their rights but also the rights of tens of thousands of their colleagues,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, in a statement. “This first-in-the-nation victory in a class action case to enforce workers’ rights under Janus should be the first of many cases that result in union bosses dropping their illegal restrictions on workers seeking to exercise their rights secured in the Foundation’s Janus Supreme Court victory.”

In the Janus decision, handed down in June, the Supreme Court ruled that public sector unions could no longer compel non-members to pay dues because it violated their constitutional rights. In addition, the high court clarified that workers must give their affirmative consent to surrender their First Amendment right not to financially support unions.

The “window period” policy, however, allowed the unions to collect dues from workers without their affirmative consent.

Rather than litigate the case, AFSCME has agreed to “stop enforcing policies restricting dues deduction revocations to a 15-day window at the end of a monopoly bargaining agreement,” states the press release, adding:

AFSCME will refund to the plaintiffs all union dues they unconstitutionally collected after the plaintiffs notified union officials that they no longer consented to financially supporting the union. Union officials will also identify any other workers whose rights were blocked by the “window period” policy, honor their requests to resign and revoke dues deduction authorization, and refund the dues deducted under the policy.

NRTW Foundation’s website to provide workers with information about their legal rights under Janus can be found here.



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