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Public Employees’ First Amendment Rights Are Being Violated by Unions, New SCOTUS Petitions Claim

Written by Vincent Price

Attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, in partnership with attorneys from the Freedom Foundation, filed petitions last week asking the US Supreme Court to hear cases from public employees in Oregon, Alaska, and California.

These cases are challenging systems created by unions that violate employees’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to provide financial support to certain unions which they might disapprove of.

The petitions states:

“Petitioners are public employees in the States of California and Oregon who exercised their First Amendment rights to resign their union memberships, revoke their authorizations for their public employers to withhold further union payments from their wages after they became nonmembers, and object to subsidizing union speech. The respondent government employers and unions ignored petitioners’ revocations and continued seizing payments for union speech from these objecting nonmembers until an escape period (contained in their dues deduction authorizations) for stopping union deductions occurred.”

A 2018 court case in Janus recognized that forcing a public employee to support a union financially violates their First Amendment rights.

Each of the cases brought before the court challenge the “escape period” scheme. These “escape periods” are specifically created to reduce the number of days for public employees to exercise their Janus rights to end union dues deductions to only a couple of days a year.

According to the NRTW, public employees will try to cut off support to an unwanted union, only to find out that they must continue to support an unwanted union for another year because of these “escape periods.” 

The majority of these cases attempt to reclaim money that these unions have taken from these petitioners and coworkers after they had left the union. 

Photo Cred: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky