Policy analyst supports worker complaint against SEIU
Trey Kovacs insists he isn’t surprised that at least some public sector unions are still resorting to what he calls the same strong-arm tactics they relied on before a landmark 2018 Supreme Court ruling supposedly outlawed them.
“Government unions have a long history of making it very difficult for employees to resign their union membership,” Kovacs, a policy analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based public policy organization Competitive Enterprise Institute, told North Cook News in response to a recent suit filed by a mechanic in Illinois alleging violations of existing law.
“As such, it is unsurprising that this union is trying to circumvent the recent Janus decision and deprive employees from exercising their First Amendment rights,” he added.
The latest twist stems from a suit filed in December by Erich Mandel, a Palatine-based Community Consolidated School District 15 employee, against Service Employees International Union Local 73 (SEIU) on the grounds it prohibited him from opting out of the union and continued to require him to pay dues.
Mandel said his efforts to leave the union were rebuffed for months, despite the U.S. Supreme Court having stipulated with its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that he has the right to make such a decision without fear of repercussions.
The Chicago Tribune reports in a letter sent to him in September, Mandel outlined in his legal filing that he was told there was no way he could cancel his membership before a July authorization period, a contention his attorneys contend should be considered null and void given the Janus Supreme Court decision.
Kovacs said that position strikes him as totally reasonable.
“Union members in states that, prior to the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, required nonmembers to pay agency fees should now have the right to immediately stop paying dues to the union,” he said. “This is because these employees were faced with a now unconstitutional choice—join the union and pay full membership dues or pay agency fees. In essence, employees could not have waived rights that they did not know they had. This makes signed dues authorization forms dated before the Janus decision invalid.”
Mandel’s suit claims violations of his First Amendment rights to free speech and seeks damages for past dues paid, along with an order prohibiting SEIU from making further deductions.
“In this case, unions are in the wrong,” Kovacs added. “Instead of trying to illegally compel workers to pay dues, government unions should start promoting the benefits of union membership to workers they represent in hopes that they retain these members.”