The Buckeye Institute Wins First Major Post-Janus Victories for Public Employees

Jul 26, 2018

Unions in Maine and Minnesota Recognize Their Members’ Right to Stop Paying Dues Immediately

Columbus, OHThe Buckeye Institute has secured the first major post-Janus v. AFSCME legal victories for two of its clients.

In cases in Maine and Minnesota, a public-sector union granted a member’s demand to immediately cancel full union membership and cease withholding union dues, without requiring the union member to wait weeks or months until the designated opt-out window or comply with any other opt-out rules or procedures—any of which would be unlawful under Janus.

“We are very pleased that unions recognize that they have no choice but to comply with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which protects the First Amendment rights of public employees and applies not just to agency-fee payers, but to all union members,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute, and one of the lead attorneys for both of these two clients. “By abandoning the kind of opt-out regime that was explicitly rejected by the Supreme Court in Janus, the Inter Faculty Organization in Minnesota and the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine have taken an important first step for all other public-sector unions to follow.”

The Buckeye Institute is representing Boyd Bradbury, a professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead, who was a full member of the Inter Faculty Organization; and Jonathan Reisman, an associate professor of economics at the University of Maine at Machias who served as the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine’s grievance officer.

Professor Bradbury’s union previously required its members to submit written opt-out notices via mail postmarked no earlier than April 1 and no later than June 15, which would then take effect the following July. Under this pre-Janus process, its members would not have been permitted to begin leaving their union until that specified window opened in 2019. However, after The Buckeye Institute issued a demand letter to Professor Bradbury’s union based upon the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the union recognized Professor Bradbury’s right to immediate release from membership and from paying dues.

Similarly, Professor Reisman’s union has a designated opt-out window of August 15 to September 15 in any given year, but after The Buckeye Institute issued a demand letter on his behalf, the union recognized Professor Reisman’s right to immediately resign his union membership and stop the dues extractions before that opt-out window opened next month.

Robert Alt concluded: “Unions must do better in complying with the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus. Our clients should not have needed to send a demand letter to secure their rights.  After Janus, public-sector unions should seek affirmative consent from their members—an ‘opt-in’—before any further dues or fees are taken by the union.”

“If unions fail to secure the affirmative consent of their members, public employees who do not wish to financially support their unions should follow the lead of Professors Bradbury and Reisman and demand that their unions stop withholding dues immediately.”

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