Workers Sue Forced Unionism-Appeasing Governor

Mike DeWine voted for forced unionism as a U.S. senator in 1996. He has not changed his stripes. Credit: AP, via WLWT/NBC (Cincinnati)

Ohio Officeholders Continue to Enforce Illegal Union Policies

Jared Allen, an independent-minded resident of Franklin County, Ohio, who works for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was delighted when he learned last year about the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31.

On June 27, 2018, the High Court decided that government employers across the country may not deduct union dues or fees from employees’ paychecks unless the employees “clearly and affirmatively consent before any money is taken from them . . . .”

(The Janus case was argued and won on behalf of Illinois civil servant Mark Janus by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorney William Messenger.)

At the time the Janus ruling came down, Ohio was one of the 24 states that either statutorily authorized or tolerated the extraction of forced union dues and fees from employees as a condition of working for the taxpayer.

And Mr. Allen was one of countless thousands of civil servants who were bankrolling a union against their will because of Ohio’s coercive labor policies.

Under duress, he had agreed to allow government officials to deduct dues from his paychecks and funnel them to the coffers of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) union, which is a subsidiary of AFSCME.

‘Immediately Cease Deducting Any and All Union Dues Or Fees From My Paychecks’

After Janus, Mr. Allen assumed things would be different.

That’s why he was gravely disappointed when a human resources official told him, 20 days after the Janus decision announcement, that he would not be able to cut off his financial support for the OSCEA for roughly another two-and-a-half years, shortly before the expiration of the union contract!

Distressed as he was, Mr. Allen was undeterred. After researching the issue with the Right to Work Foundation’s assistance, he concluded the state government had no authority, under Janus, to bar him from exercising his First Amendment right not to subsidize OCSEA bosses and their speech except between December 30, 2020 and January 29, 2021.

This February 14, Mr. Allen tried to vindicate his Janus rights again. On that day, he sent, by certified mail, letters to his state employer and to OCSEA headquarters insisting “you immediately cease deducting any and all union dues or fees from my paychecks.” 

Union Bosses Face Potential Aggregate Loss of Billions

Unfortunately, both the Ohio EPA and the OCSEA union brass chose to ignore Mr. Allen’s admonition that dues money could not be constitutionally deducted from his paychecks without his “affirmative consent.”

That left Mr. Allen with no real choice except to go to court.

On August 27, Foundation attorneys filed a federal class action lawsuit, challenging the state’s enforcement of illegal restrictions on union withdrawals on behalf of Mr. Allen and four other Ohio civil servants whose First Amendment rights have been similarly trampled.

With the enthusiastic help of top bosses of the OCSEA union (also known as AFSCME Local 11), Big Labor GOP Gov. Mike DeWine and other Ohio state officials are currently barring tens of thousands of state workers from exercising their Janus rights at least until the end of 2020.

As a class action, the Allen complaint is designed to end all such restrictions for all state employees.

“Gov. DeWine and Matthew Damschroder, head of the Department of Administrative Services, are named as defendants because the state is seizing dues from workers’ paychecks and enforcing restrictions on resignations,” explained Mark Mix, president of the Foundation and the National Right to Work Committee.

“Were it not for compliant politicians like Mr. DeWine and bureaucrats like Mr. Damschroder, government union bosses who face the potential loss of billions of dollars in coerced union dues and fees thanks to Janus would have little ability to stop civil servants from exercising their First Amendment rights.

“Ohio is just one of 19 states whose top public officials were notified by the Foundation last year, soon after Janus was announced, that they would face litigation if they didn’t cease collecting union dues from government employees without their consent. Unless they change course soon, many other state executives could soon face Allen-style litigation.”