Ohio Teachers File Class-Action to Halt Compulsory Union Dues for Political Activism

With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, 15 public school teachers across the state filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and nine of its regional affiliates for violating their rights.

The group filed the class-action suit after the OEA union unlawfully overcharged the teachers – who have refrained from full-dues-paying union membership – for union “fees” taken from their paychecks, charging them for costs supporting the union’s political activism and electioneering. Per Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution nonmember teachers cannot be forced to pay dues or fees for union boss politics and other non-bargaining activities.

Additionally, the OEA union’s regional affiliates are collecting compulsory fees from non-members without providing the kind of independently-audited financial statements required by law. In the Foundation-won Supreme Court ruling in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, the High Court ruled that public employees have due process rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to be notified how their forced union dues are spent, and how to prevent the spending of their dues for union political and other non-bargaining activities.

The teachers filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in Columbus, late Thursday. The teachers are employed at various school districts, including Marietta City Schools in Marietta; Green Local Schools in Green; the Western Brown School District in Mt. Orab; and the Trumbull County Joint Vocational School District in Warren.

The lawsuit focuses on unlawful union dues confiscations from Ohio teachers’ paychecks during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years and seeks to reclaim the teachers’ mandatory union fees spent illegally. The OEA is currently pouring money in support of a ballot measure to repeal the recently-passed Right to Work law, which makes union dues strictly voluntary for teachers and other public employees.

“OEA union officials have a long history of abusing teachers’ rights in the workplace to fund their political coffers,” said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. “It’s important to remember where the OEA union machine gets a large amount of its money as it gears up its efforts to defeat recent public-sector reforms in the Buckeye State – reforms that allow teachers to opt out of forced dues payments.”

The National Right to Work Foundation – the nation’s premier legal advocate for workers who suffer from the abuses of compulsory unionism – has established numerous precedents and protected legal rights at the U.S. Supreme Court for both private-sector and public-sector workers who wish to refrain from formal union membership and full union dues payment. Currently, the Foundation has a case pending with the Supreme Court brought for teachers in California forced to subsidize union boss political spending.

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