Court case results in union agreeing to stop taking dues from non-member

A labor union representing school workers has agreed to stop taking dues from an employee who dropped out of the labor organization, but still was being forced to pay the organization.

Liberty Justice Center says it’s a victory for workers’ rights.

“It shouldn’t have taken a federal lawsuit, but we are pleased that the union has chosen to respect Denise’s First Amendment rights,” said Jeffrey Schwab, senior counsel at the Liberty Justice Center.

The organization filed a lawsuit last month against the Ohio Association of Public School Employees on behalf of Denise Cogar, a school district employee who quit the union in 2022 and stopped having dues deducted from her paychecks.

Then, however, the union claimed it made a mistake and announced it would begin confiscating dues from her pay again.

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“Because the union had confirmed that Ms. Cogar was a non-member and informed the school district to stop withholding dues from her paychecks, the union had a legal obligation to secure, and the district had a legal obligation confirm, her ‘affirmative consent’ before taking dues from her again,” the legal team said.

By taking dues without her consent, the district and the union violated her First Amendment rights under the 2018 Supreme Court decision Janus v. AFSCME, the team explained.

The union also said it would refund the dues that it had taken improperly.

“Taking money from my paycheck—when I wasn’t a union member and hadn’t paid dues for four months—was unfair and unconstitutional,” said Cogar. “But because the Liberty Justice Center stepped in to defend me, I got my back my money and my rights.”

WND had reported when the case was launched that the Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to use “the coercion of government to take money from a government employee and give it to a union without the employee’s consent.”

Cogar, an associate at Perry High School in Perry Village (35 miles northeast of Cleveland), had been a member of the union, Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 367, since 2001.

But she informed the union she was dropping out in 2022.

She got a confirmation of that decision, but then the union cited a paragraph of fine print in the contract to demand she resume paying.

The lawsuit cited the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which states that “neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”

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