Three Oregon school employees sued their union in federal court last week, arguing it’s unfair that the teachers’ union only lets members drop out and stop paying dues during the month of September.
The suit was filed the same day state lawmakers passed a bill that some believe will make it more difficult for public employees to opt out of union membership. The bill is aimed at codifying a number of “best practices” related to filing complaints, release time for union activities, access to worksites and employee information, and dues collection, according to union leaders.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued last June ended a 40-year mandate that public employees join the union that represents them and their co-workers. But three members of the Oregon Education Association say in their lawsuit that they missed the “fine print” on the annual enrollment forms they completed that said September is the only window during which they can end their membership and void their obligation to pay dues. They say limiting their ability to drop membership to one month a year violates their constitutional rights.
In a decision known as Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court said that the First Amendment prevents unions from compelling public employees to pay dues without their affirmative consent.
A version of this article appeared in the June 19, 2019 edition of Education Week as School Workers in Oregon Sue Union Over Window of Opportunity to Quit