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Supreme Court to consider lawsuit challenging teacher union dues

Illinois teachers seeking to end “escape period” schemes that kept them from cutting off union dues.

Published: October 18, 2021 7:32pm

Updated: October 18, 2021 11:06pm

(The Center Square) -

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a petition from some Illinois teaches seeking to end “escape period” schemes that kept them from cutting off union dues.

The Supreme Court ruled in its 2018 Janus decision that employees of state and local governments cannot be forced to pay union dues or fees, and that government workers must affirmatively consent before union dues are taken from their paychecks.

Chicago Public Schools educators Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi sued the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Board of Education over a union boss-created “escape period” that blocks workers from exercising their right to terminate union dues deductions from their paychecks outside the month of August. The two are receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

“We litigated Janus, so providing free legal aid to individual teachers and other employees so they can fully exercise on their rights under Janus is really what the National Right to Work Foundation does and will continue to do,” said attorney Bill Messenger.

In the lawsuit, the teachers explain their “did not know they had a constitutional right not to financially support” the union hierarchy until the fall of 2019, when they discovered their Janus rights while looking for information on how to continue working during a strike that union bosses ordered in October. They said they sent letters the same month to union officials to exercise their Janus right to resign union membership and cut off all dues deductions.

Both educators said they received no response until November of that year, when union officials confirmed receipt of the letters but notified them they would continue to seize dues from the teachers’ paychecks until Sept. 1, 2020, as allowed by the union’s “escape period” scheme.

The Illinois care along with a similar case from New Jersey will be presented to the Supreme Court on Oct. 29.

“Escape periods are one of the many ways union bosses try to keep workers paying dues without the trouble of attracting their voluntary support,” said NRWLDF president Mark Mix. “The Supreme Court should take up this issue and end these widespread schemes to circumvent the Court’s Janus decision.”

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