Ohio Public Employee Settles with Union over Vacation Time

by J.D. Davidson


A city of Cincinnati employee will receive back vacation time after union officials settled a lawsuit that accused them of stealing vacation time from public employees.

Margaret Lascano, a medical assistant employed by the city, ended her membership and dues deduction in July 2021 in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, but the union continued to require her to donate up to four hours of vacation time every year to the “union release time bank.”

She sued and, according to the Freedom Foundation, union officials settled and agreed to refund all vacation hours taken from Lascano since she resigned and other nonmembers since February 2020. The union admitted no wrongdoing.

“The court was unambiguous,” said James Abernathy, an attorney with the Freedom Foundation, which teamed up with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, to represent Lascano in the lawsuit. “Compelling public employees to join or financially support an organization whose ideals they disagree with is a violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech and association.”

According to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, transferred employee vacation hours are withdrawn from the “bank” for use by AFSCME officers when they transact “union business” – including attending AFSCME conventions, organizing activities and collective bargaining agreement administration – on the taxpayers’ time.

Lascano challenged the seizure of her vacation time for union officials to conduct union business as a violation of her First Amendment rights under the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision, in which the court recognized the First Amendment forbids union officials from forcing public employees to subsidize union activities.

“With this favorable settlement for Ms. Lascano, yet another scheme that circumvents Janus and forces public workers to subsidize union activities in violation of the First Amendment has bitten the dust,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “While we’re pleased that Ms. Lascano and her colleagues will finally see the return of their hard-earned vacation time, it’s ridiculous that union officials’ focus has been on creating new coercive schemes to make workers prop up a union agenda, as opposed to winning workers’ support voluntarily.”

A request for comment from AFSCME was unsuccessful.

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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square. 
Photo “Cincinnati City Hall” by EEJCC. CC BY-SA 4.0.




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