Posted on June 27, 2019 in Labor and Employment
In the case of Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court ruled that public sector unions could not charge public employees for agency fees, even though they are still required to bargain on their behalf. Union supporters argued that the decision would devastate organized labor, compromise their political power, and cause employees to leave their unions. The organizations representing the employees, including the Liberty Justice Center, say that they are simply fighting for the workers’ rights. Since the Janus ruling, at least nine lawsuits have been filed on behalf union workers in Pennsylvania.
In February of 2019, the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Southwest Philadelphia employee who works for the State’s Department of Human Services. According to the lawsuit, the Janus decision states that it is illegal for the state to deduct dues from the employee’s paycheck. In addition, the employee should be refunded for the dues she paid, including those paid before the Janus decision, since she did not have the option of not joining the union.
Other Lawsuits Filed Against Unions
Other examples include a lawsuit that was filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of a bus driver who works for the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District. The bus driver sued his employer and his union for continuing to collect dues from him after the Janus ruling. A class action lawsuit was also filed by a group of teachers who claimed that the Pennsylvania State Education Association illegally collected union fees. The Fairness Center also filed a lawsuit on behalf of workers at Erie Water Works, who alleged poor representation. According to the spokesperson for the Liberty Justice Center, these cases are about protecting workers’ rights.
A representative of a company that tracks anti-union activity said that organizations generally follow a formula, where they find one disgruntled employee and make that person the face of a particular lawsuit. In the past, their campaigns to encourage public-sector employees to drop out of their unions have been ineffective. Only a small percentage of workers in Pennsylvania have left public-sector unions.
The union president of Local 668 in Harrisburg argued that these lawsuits cost the unions a great deal of time and money and distracts from being able to fight for a higher minimum wage and more comprehensive health care for workers.