Last June, we summarized the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the extraction of agency fees (i.e. “fair share fees”) from non-consenting public-sector employees violated the First Amendment.

Since June, class action complaints have been filed across the county in response to the Janus ruling. In Ohio, a class action complaint, Smith v. AFSCME, was filed by several employees serving with various Ohio local government agencies. Following the Janus ruling, the employees all attempted to resign their union membership and revoke their dues deduction authorizations. However, union officials continued to deduct dues. They relied on a union policy commonly known as a maintenance of membership requirement that restricted revocation of dues deductions to a narrow 15-day window prior to the expiration of the current collective bargaining contract. The employees filed a lawsuit, alleging that the “window period” policy was unconstitutional.

In late January, the parties reportedly settled the lawsuit. Under the reported settlement agreement’s terms, the union will not restrict dues deduction revocations to the window period. AFSCME also agreed to refund to the employees all union dues that were collected after the employees notified the union of their intent to revoke their dues deduction authorizations.

OSBA’s Division of Legal Services is monitoring the legal landscape following Janus and will continue to provide updates as they become available. If you have general questions in the meantime, please contact us.

Posted by Sara C. Clark on 2/8/2019