Four Lebanon County employees have filed a federal complaint (PDF) against the county and Teamsters Local 429 for unauthorized deductions of union dues from their paychecks.
The lawsuit stems from a June 2018 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that significantly weakened the power of public sector unions by overturning what is known as the “Abood precedent”, a 1977 decision that allowed public-employee unions to require “agency fees” from workers.
That June 2018 case—Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31—stemmed from a dispute between Mark Janus and his employer, the state of Illinois, over obligatory deduction of the AFSCME agency fee from his paycheck.
The Lebanon lawsuit was filed by the nonprofit Liberty Justice Center, for which Janus himself now works. According to the complaint, the four individuals were either delayed or obstructed in their attempts to leave the union and cease the withholdings.
“Our clients have repeatedly made it clear to Lebanon County and Teamsters Local 429 that they do not consent to the deduction of union dues from their paychecks,” said senior attorney Jeffrey Schwab in a Liberty Justice Center press release. “The Supreme Court was clear in Janus: government employers cannot deduct union dues from workers’ paychecks unless workers have told them to.”
A core issue of the lawsuit will be whether authorizations for the deduction of union dues provided before the June 2018 SCOTUS decision serve as freely given consent, given that there was no alternative save for non-employment at the time.
In addition to Teamsters Local 429 and the County, the suit also names Attorney General Josh Shapiro, as well as members of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
An additional lawsuit was filed by Liberty Justice Center for a Philadelphia caseworker over deductions for a local social services union.