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Two Janus-related lawsuits filed

Thursday, May 2, 2019

* Tribune

Continuing a fight against public employee unions initially spearheaded by former Gov. Bruce Rauner, nine state workers who say they have opted out of union membership are asking to be repaid for past “fair share” fees in a proposed class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday argues that more than 2,700 state employees are entitled to money they paid to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 from May 1, 2017 — the furthest back they can demand the money under a state statute of limitations — through June 28, 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to make public employees pay union dues. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say they’re seeking close to $2 million from the union. […]

Janus was the plaintiff in a similar lawsuit that was thrown out earlier this year by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, who ruled that AFSCME had followed the law in collecting fair share fees and couldn’t have reasonably anticipated those fees becoming illegal. […]

“We are making the same legal argument and we are appealing the legal argument that was rejected,” [Patrick Hughes, president and co-founder of the Liberty Justice Center] said. “The district judge is not the final say on these issues. We’ll appeal that decision. … Ultimately if we are successful, we’ll see what the unions do. If we are unsuccessful, we’ll appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court and let the justices that decided the Janus decision ultimately decide that case as well.”

* Illinois News Network

A school employee in Illinois filed a federal lawsuit against a local school district and the state’s largest public sector union, claiming both refused to stop deducting union dues from her paycheck months after she left the union.

Susan Bennett, a janitor at the Moline-Coal Valley School District since 2009, withdrew from her union shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forced union dues as a condition of employment violated the First Amendment. The high court’s decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 struck down forced union fees as unconstitutional.

Bennett alleged the school district refused to stop deducting union dues from her paychecks in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Central District of U.S. District Court.

“Since November 2018, the union and the school district have been fully aware they do not have permission to collect money from my paycheck,” Bennett said. “I submitted my resignation as soon as I could after learning about the decision. The union did not inform me of my rights after the Janus decision and I should not have to wait months to exercise them.”

In the suit, she said that the district was forcing her to wait until an enrollment period to withdraw based on her union agreement entered into before the Janus decision. Unions have used similar tactics elsewhere to retain members after the 2018 Supreme Court decision.

“Based on your enrollment card with AFSCME, see attached, you have to wait until the enrollment period to withdrawal,” district CFO Dave McDermott wrote in an email response to Bennett. “I believe the next opportunity is August 2019.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

27 Comments
  1. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 9:28 am:

    “nine state workers who say they have opted out of union membership are asking to be repaid for past “fair share” fees in a proposed class-action lawsuit“

    They are not entitled to them, because fair share fees were the law at the time. These people are takers—the very type of people anti-union people despise.


  2. - State of DenIL - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    Illinois Policy is about to get a lot of Senior Fellows..


  3. - Steve - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 9:43 am:

    If this goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, we might be moving to a world in which you have to “opt in” to be in a union.


  4. - Fair settlement - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 9:49 am:

    Give them their fair share dues back. But also return them to the rate of pay when they first started because they have no legal claim to the pay raises that fee payers got. Also make them return all pay raises to the state because they were not entitled to them because they did not want representation. They can’t have their cake and eat it too.


  5. - Honeybear - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 9:49 am:

    Who cares
    IPI and Rauner
    Only made Public Sector Unions
    immeasurably stronger
    Janus was a failure.
    This is just a
    pathetic
    face saving measure
    nothing more.


  6. - The 5th Deputy Governor - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    -Steve-
    You already have to “opt-in” to be in a labor union in the public sector. Now, if you’re saying the SCOTUS will invalidate exclusive representation, I would say you’re onto something. It all comes back to one thing: Rs know that Labor is the largest donor and strategic partner of the Dem party, they want to bankrupt Labor to bankrupt the left.


  7. - 17% Solution - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 9:55 am:

    Decisions, decisions. So Bennett can spend thousands on lawyers and wait for a court date in a couple months or wait a couple months and get all the money without paying lawyers. Life is hard.


  8. - You Bet - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:01 am:

    Regardless of one’s union perspective, the plaintiff will win this easily. The court ruled they don’t have to pay. They will be entitled to every dollar back beginning on the day they notified the union they were leaving.

    The court ruled this practice unconstitutional. To somehow try to hold a person hostage to a “contract” that is date specific after it had been ruled illegal is absurd.


  9. - RNUG - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:01 am:

    Follow the money. Who is paying the plaintiffs’ lawyers?


  10. - JS Mill - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:02 am:

    = Liberty Justice Center=

    I love these false patriotic names. Jingoism at it’s worst.

    The school district needs to stop forcibly deducting fair share, it is an unforced error.

    For the other suit, wouldn’t they only be entitled for a refund from the point of the decision onward?


  11. - Uncle Merkin - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:03 am:

    Just look at the crowd at rallies on this stuff. The anti-”right-to-work” crowd is thousands of teachers, public safety workers, construction workers, etc.

    The crowd supporting these things are a couple of lawyers and policy institute guys who are indirectly being paid by billionaires. And they’re standing behind whatever poor sap they were able to con into signing on to the lawsuit.


  12. - Perrid - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:09 am:

    I have absolutely no idea what the law says about this, but what it SHOULD say is too bad, so sad. The interpretation of the law on the books was that fair share was legal, when those dues were collected. It wasn’t even a new or untested idea, the SCOTUS had ruled it was legal. Take your win and go home guys.


  13. - Ole' Nelson - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:14 am:

    I hope these people enjoy the few hundred dollars they get back. It seems like a short-sided move that has the potential to negate decades of fighting for workers’ rights that in many cases required the workers to give up their lives for the cause. Sad.


  14. - Teacher - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    Might be a double standard that will make things difficult on unions. You do not have to be in the union or pay the dues, but are still able and required to receive the same benefits the union members paid and negotiated for.


  15. - City Zen - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    1) Trying to get back dues from AFSCME seems petty. You won a Supreme Court case. Move on.

    2) The limited window to leave a union is a joke.


  16. - Jocko - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    ==Susan Bennett…withdrew from her union shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled==

    Having quit to become a senior fellow at IPI, Mark has nothing coming. Susan (and the other eight) have to show they followed the proper steps to withdraw…other than selfishly thinking to themselves “where’s mine?”


  17. - John's Daughter - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    The union isn’t some nebulous other. The union is the other co-workers. The other co-workers have voted to band together and are pooling their money to try and get better benefits from management and these workers don’t want to chip in. That’s fine but it’s the same as not chipping into the office lottery pool but expecting a share of the winnings. It’s everyone’s right but there should be a certain about of shame to let other people use their money and hard work to get you benefits. I understand unions can be disliked but come on, these are your fellow coworkers you are suing.


  18. - Generic Drone - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 11:08 am:

    Give them their money back. Who cares about these freeloaders. Dust them off like lint on your shoulder and forget about em.


  19. - City Zen - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    ==Susan (and the other eight) have to show they followed the proper steps to withdraw==

    I would like to see a side-by-side analysis of the process to join and leave a union.


  20. - Bigtwich - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 11:52 am:

    =The limited window to leave a union is a joke.=

    Are you suggesting that all contracts, such as leases, be at will rather than a fixed term?

    I suppose enrolment periods for health insurance are not proper either.


  21. - d. p. gumby - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 12:26 pm:

    The freeloader and right-wing libertarians are just never satisfied…


  22. - City Zen - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 12:54 pm:

    ==Are you suggesting that all contracts, such as leases, be at will rather than a fixed term?==

    Am I leasing my membership?

    How about this: The union notifies all members multiple times during their respective “drop windows” that they can drop membership. I just think it’s funny that union membership dynamics are similar to that of a seedy gym membership.


  23. - Crispy - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    You Bet @ 10:01: W/regard to Ms. Bennett, perhaps you’re right. With regard to the plaintiffs seeking back pay from the time when fair share was legal, not so much. Grandson of Man is right. Also, I agree with Fair settlement at 9:49–if they get their fair share fees back, they should definitely be docked any concurrent benefits, such as pay raises, they received as a result of the contract the union negotiated on their behalf. Maybe deduct the monetary value of any union-negotiated benefits, such as paid time off and employer share of health insurance as well—because gee, fair is fair.


  24. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    ==Can’t wait for the US Supremes to kill public employee unions once and for all.==

    How? Get rid of freedom of speech? Freedom of assembly? Or the vote?


  25. - City Zen - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    ==if they get their fair share fees back, they should definitely be docked any concurrent benefits==

    Exclusive. Bargaining. Rights. That’s the lucrative benefit the union receives for the right to represent all employees in that unit.

    If they get their fair share fees back, they don’t owe the union anything. That was the cost of doing business as the exclusive bargaining unit.


  26. - Unle Ernie - Thursday, May 2, 19 @ 4:00 pm:

    Life is tough, these whiners are just making an anti union statement. So what if they paid some dues they didn’t want to? It was the law and live with it.


  27. - Quicksand - Friday, May 3, 19 @ 4:02 am:

    The Democratic Party abandoned Working People a long time ago. Defunding unions no longer matters.


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