A Brainerd public official has become the first in the nation to successfully challenge her union’s “window period” scheme in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Janus v. AFSCME decision.
Sandra Anderson, a clerk for the City of Brainerd Police Department, filed suit against the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 31 last year after she attempted to resign her membership and stop paying dues, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Anderson was told she could only opt out of the agreement during a 10-day “window period” prior to either the anniversary of the city’s contract with IBEW or her date of employment. IBEW Local 31, an electrical union, entered into a monopoly bargaining agreement with the City of Brainerd in 2004 that required all city employees to either join the union or pay union fees.
2018’s Janus decision, however, ruled it unconstitutional to require public employees to subsidize labor unions, and further ruled that deducting union fees from an employee’s check without their affirmative consent violates their First Amendment rights.
When Anderson asked IBEW Local 31 and the City of Brainerd to cease withholding union fees, she was told she could only do so during the aforementioned “window period.” As a result, she turned to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who filed a lawsuit on her behalf against IBEW Local 31.
The labor union agreed to settle with Anderson on Monday, and as a result will refund all dues it collected from her since the time of her initial request to stop paying dues.
“Ms. Anderson is the first of thousands of government employees to successfully challenge union boss’ ‘window period’ schemes designed to limit workers from exercising their First Amendment rights under Janus,” National Right to Work President Mark Mix said in a press release. “This victory serves as an inspiration for civil servants across the country who are stepping up to challenge union bosses’ coercive tactics to limit public employees’ constitutional rights.”
Kim Crockett, vice president and general counsel at the Center of the American Experiment, called the settlement “exciting news for public employees all over the state of Minnesota and a warning to public employers.”
“Public employers are not telling employees they have the right to keep their jobs without funding the political agenda of their workplace union,” she said. “Employers are also not getting the affirmative, written consent of employees before deducting union dues in defiance of the law.”
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