Public-sector unions, long accustomed to getting their way, received a rude awakening this morning. By 5-4, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 that nonmember state and local government employees are not required to pay partial dues (“agency fees”) to a union representing them. The decision overturns over 40 years of union monopoly power now practiced in nearly two dozen states. In so doing, it will hamper the ability of public-employee unions to route dues collections toward political activism. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, stated, “States and public-sector unions may no longer extract agency fees from nonconsenting employees.” Union officials fear that millions of workers now will be able to choose whether or not to pay dues. Frankly, such a prospect should be welcomed, not feared.
Service Employees International Union Local 775, it seems, would do anything for a buck, including collecting dues from a former member. It’s now learned its limitations. On March 29, the Seattle-based union reached an out-of-court agreement with a Spokane home caregiver, Cindy Ochoa, following its admission that one of its canvassers had forged her signature on a membership card. Ochoa, with the help of a nonprofit legal group, the Freedom Foundation, had filed a lawsuit in federal court in October alleging the union had violated her First Amendment rights, unlawfully withheld part of her wages, and caused emotional distress. Local 775 agreed to pay $15,000 in damages to her and $13,000 to the foundation to cover legal fees, plus send her a written apology.
SEIU Local 775 represents more than 45,000 long-term health care providers in Washington State and Montana, many of them operating out of their homes on behalf … Read More ➡
A half-decade ago, the Obama administration, in apparent defiance of federal statutes, issued a rule authorizing states to deduct union dues from home care providers whose income is partly or fully Medicaid-derived. The experiment now has ended. Yesterday, May 2, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule to protect non-joining independent providers from having a portion of their paychecks deducted and routed to a union. Public-sector unions have generated an estimated $200 million a year this way. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, calls the reversal “an encouraging action toward stopping union bosses from unlawfully using public payment systems to intercept tax dollars intended for providers caring for those in need.” The rule is set to take effect on or about July 5.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 5-4 Janus decision last June, which barred public-sector unions from forcibly exacting dues from nonmembers, various states have gotten creative in circumventing the ruling. Oregon is emerging as a leader. Early in the year, a state lawmaker, acting on a request by a school employees union, introduced House Bill 2643, authorizing the establishment of a special fund from which public employers would collect dues and then pass them along to unions. A dissenting worker would have no way to opt out. Aside from showing contempt for worker liberty, the measure runs contrary to the law. The bill for now is in committee, but given the Democratic Party (i.e., pro-union) majority in both legislative houses, passage is a distinct possibility.
Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 was the most significant Supreme Court decision on … Read More ➡
Members of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) this January returned to work following a six-day strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District. But as that battle was ending, a more significant one was being launched. On January 22, Irene Seager, a teacher in Los Angeles’ Porter Ranch area, filed suit in federal court against the union and the school district challenging the union’s authority to limit dues opt-outs by dissenting employees to an annual window of just 30 days. Seager also wants a refund of dues she already paid. Unlike a more expansive suit filed against the union and the school district months ago by another teacher, Thomas Few, this one seeks class-action status. The case is part of a growing number of public-sector employee suits in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Janus ruling last June.
The year 2018 saw the indictment, conviction and sentences of plenty of organized labor scams. New York City played host to some of the largest. For sheer magnitude, nothing anywhere could match the network of union fraud surrounding the construction of Hudson Yards, a large-scale, mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side. Set for completion in 2024, the project from the start has been a source of easy money for labor organizations affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. The general contractor, Related Companies, having reached the limits of frustration, filed suit last March with the State Supreme Court against the council and its president for promoting or allowing illegal practices that allegedly have added over $100 million to the total project cost.
The union calls them “service fees.” In practice, they amount to dues. And public school teachers are among those who believe that it is a distinction without a difference. On November 13, Thomas Few, a special education teacher in Los Angeles, filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District challenging their tandem practice of deducting a large fee from salaries of teachers who remain employed but leave the union. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, Few had informed the union of his intent to resign, but was told that he would have to pay an annual “service fee” equivalent to monthly dues. The union, an affiliate of the state chapters of both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, … Read More ➡
The Supreme Court’s Janus decision four months ago, which overturned the authority of public-sector unions to force nonmember employees under contract to pay dues or risk losing their jobs, has taken some unexpected turns. Indeed, barely after the ruling, a Columbus, Ohio-based nonprofit group, the Buckeye Institute, filed separate suits on behalf of a high school teacher in Ohio and a college professor in Minnesota challenging the authority of their respective unions to bargain exclusively. In effect, the plaintiffs seek to be freed from representation they never requested in the first place. “These capable public servants have the right to speak for themselves and should be released from forced association with unions and advocacy with which they disagree,” said Institute President Robert Alt. The unions have a different view.
Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 was the most important U.S. Supreme Court decision on public-sector unionism in more than 40 … Read More ➡
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Janus v. AFSCME was a stunning blow to over 40 years of public-sector union monopoly power. Union leaders for their part are pushing back. They have plenty of allies in state governments, and perhaps no state is as vociferous as New York. Indeed, on June 27, the day of the ruling, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to protect union members from outside intimidation – ironic, given the pressure unions often use to collect dues. The State of New York also has begun deducting dues from the pay of government workers without even checking to see if they are members. And now a prominent lawmaker wants taxpayers to reimburse unions for foregone dues.
State and local officials across the country, especially in non-Right to Work states, are helping to lead a popular resistance to Trump administration policies and court … Read More ➡
Few things say “money in the bank” to a public-sector union quite like Medicaid. A proposed federal rule would end this freebie. On July 12, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to bar states from using Medicaid funds as a source of dues for unions representing home health care providers. Workers still would have the right to join a union. But non-joiners no longer would be captive of a state agency deducting dues and forwarding them to a union. Over a dozen states now engage in this practice. For organized labor, this arrangement generates around $200 million a year. That’s why unions and the states are resisting the proposed rule in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in June. A recent development in Washington State has strengthened the hand of reluctant dues payers while the department finalizes its rule.… Read More ➡