New Jersey school district stops deducting unconstitutional union fees from all employees

New Jersey school district stops deducting unconstitutional union fees from all employees

One school district in New Jersey has stopped deducting union dues and fees until it has new authorizations from employees to do so – a step in line with what the U.S. Supreme Court demanded of state and local government employers and government unions in Janus v. AFSCME. Illinois governments should follow suit.

A school district in New Jersey has stopped deducting union dues and fees from all employee paychecks following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 27 decision in Janus v. AFSCME.

That’s something Illinois school districts and other state and local government employers should be doing to comply with court’s holding that it is unconstitutional to deduct union dues or fees from an employee’s paycheck without clear and affirmative consent.

The school business administrator at the Clearview Regional High School District in New Jersey sent an email to employees on Aug. 9, 2018, explaining the Janus decision prohibits government employers from deducting union fees from employee paychecks when those employees are not members of the union.

Rather than reviewing all employee records to determine union membership status, the district sent a new authorization form for employees to submit, requiring them to indicate whether they want to have union fees or dues deducted from their paychecks.

In the Janus case, the Supreme Court ruled that forcing government employees to pay fees to a union as a condition of employment violates the employees’ First Amendment rights. Under Janus, unless an employee gives clear and affirmative consent, it is unconstitutional for an employer to transfer any dues or fees from the employee’s paycheck to the union.

On Aug. 10, the Clearview Education Association followed up with action of its own. The union, which claims on its Facebook profile to represent 300 educators and support staff in the district, sent a letter demanding the district cease and desist from requesting new authorization forms.

But Clearview Regional High School District is on the right track. Government employers should stop the deduction of union dues and fees unless new authorizations are submitted.

Any forms signed before the Janus decision – such as those previously filed with Clearview Regional High School District – do not meet the high standard of clear and affirmative consent. That’s because prior “consent” was based on an unconstitutional choice: Pay dues to the union and become a member, or pay fees to a union and remain a nonmember.

“Consent” based upon an unconstitutional choice is not valid, and therefore employers should cease deducting union dues or fees immediately.

But because some employers may not act quickly – and because unions may attempt to delay or thwart such action – it is best that state and local government employees take steps to alert their employers and unions that they do not want dues or fees deducted from their paychecks any longer.

Below is an outline of what state and local government employees such as teachers can do to ensure their employers comply in a timelier manner.

How to opt out of union fees:

Step 1:  Notify the union in writing that you are resigning from union membership.

Step 2: Notify your employer that you are no longer a union member and, therefore, you withdraw any authorization for dues or fees to be deducted from your paycheck.

Some government unions and employers previously placed limits on when employees could execute Step 2. Under Janus, those procedures are obsolete and should not be required. Taking the steps above within the previously required time frames, however, should ensure that any unions or employers attempting to enforce opt-out time frames stop deducting fees from your paycheck right away.

For more detailed information, visit leavemyunion.com.

If you are already a fair share payer: 

If you think you are a fair share payer but aren’t sure, you should complete both Steps 1 and 2 to make sure fees are not deducted from your paycheck.

If you know you are a fair share payer, you have already completed Step 1 (opting out of the union). But to best ensure your employer stops deducting union fees from your paycheck immediately, you should complete Step 2:

Step 2: Notify your employer that you are no longer a union member and, therefore, you withdraw any authorization for dues or fees to be deducted from your paycheck.

For further information, visit leavemyunion.com.

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