Columbus Civil Servant Sues Union Over Forced Payments

A city employee of Columbus, Ohio has filed a class action lawsuit against her local labor union for forcing her to pay union fees, despite the practice being ruled unconstitutional.

Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) was one of the most impactful Supreme Court rulings in recent history. As reported:

The landmark court case Janus V. AFSCME, ruled on last year, made it illegal for unions to compel non-union employees to pay “agency fees,” overturning a 1977 decision that affirmed this right. The decision, despite being met with resounding condemnation by national unions, was celebrated by many workers.

In addition, Janus ruled that a union can’t deduct any fee from a public employee without their “affirmative consent.”

Shortly after this ruling, Columbus city employee Connie Pennington, a dues-paying member of Communication Workers of America (CW) Local 4502, her formerly mandated union representation, decided that she would not continue her involvement with the organization. She resigned her union membership and revoked the forms authorizing her union to deduct their dues from her paycheck. According to a press release provided by her legal defense:

 …CWA union officials refused to honor her revocation, instead claiming that she could only stop union dues payments at the end of their collective bargaining agreement with her employer in May 2020, leaving her trapped in forced dues for the entirety of a union monopoly bargaining contract.

These contract clauses are often referred to as “Escape Periods.” Concerned with the legality of this ongoing payment that she considered to be “subsidizing” the union for more than a year, Pennington reached out to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund.

Right to Work attorneys sent a letter to the CWA, demanding that they release Pennington from the Escape Period and refund her payments. After they declined, a Class Action Lawsuit followed. In regards to the case, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix stated:

“Ms. Pennington joins many other public sector workers across the country in standing up to Big Labor’s coercion…Union officials have a long history of creating obstacles such as ‘escape period’ schemes, arbitrary union-enacted limitations trapping workers into forced dues. This case shows that the National Right to Work Foundation must remain vigilant to protect government employees’ rights under Janus.”

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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio StarSend tips to [email protected].
Photo “Communication Workers of America” by Thomas Good. CC BY-SA 3.0.






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