Ohio teacher union bosses forced to refund dues and fees illegally used for union electioneering to over 2,000 teachers
Columbus, OH (September 11, 2014) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, 14 public school teachers across the state have won a federal class-action settlement against the Ohio Education Association (OEA) and 11 of its regional and local affiliates for violating their rights.
The settlement is in a class-action lawsuit the group filed in 2011 after the OEA union unlawfully overcharged the teachers -- who have refrained from full-dues-paying union membership -- for union "fees" taken from their paychecks. The union hierarchy charged the teachers 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, nonmember teachers cannot be forced to pay dues or fees for union boss politics and other non-bargaining activities under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Additionally, the OEA union's regional affiliates were 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 must be notified how their forced union dues are spent to make it less difficult to prevent their dues from going towards union political and member-only expenditures.
The settlement awards more than 2,000 teachers in Ohio nominal damages and/or rebates for union dues illegally-seized from their paychecks during the 2009-2010 to 2012-2013 school years.
"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 Foundation. "We applaud these teachers' commitment to defending their and other Ohio teachers' rights in this case."
"Despite this victory, it's important to remember that the OEA union machine forced nonmembers to pay a large part of the money used to defeat public-sector reforms in the Buckeye State in 2011 -- reforms that would have allowed teachers to opt out of forced dues payments all together," added Mix. "This case underscores the need for Ohio to pass a Right to Work law protecting all of Ohio's workers."
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for workers. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.