by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Public-sector workers across the country are seeking to recover back wages they paid to labor organizations in the event the Supreme Court declares mandatory union fees unconstitutional.
Class action suits have been filed against eight unions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, California, and the state of Washington, accusing individual unions of violating workers’ rights by collecting mandatory dues payments. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a groundbreaking case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which challenges the constitutionality of forcing public-sector workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The suits argue that any public-sector employee who participated in forced dues systems should receive financial “redress” from labor organizations.
“The defendants have violated the class members’ constitutional rights by forcing non-union members to pay compulsory ‘representation fees’ to the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) or its affiliates as a condition of their employment,” the Maryland complaint says. Similar language is featured in all eight lawsuits. “The compelled subsidy that [plaintiff Ruth Akers] and her fellow representation-fee payers must remit to the MSEA as a condition of their employment violates their constitutional rights.”