Cincinnati, Ohio (January 30, 2003) - Facing religious discrimination charges and embarrassing media exposure, Ohio Education Association (OEA) union officials have agreed to honor the right of two Gallia County Public Schools teachers, Donna Barnes and Frances Phillips, to have their union dues re-directed to charity because the union’s social advocacy violates their religious convictions.
With free legal assistance from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Barnes originally filed religious discrimination charges against the OEA in 1999. A practicing Christian and member of the New Life Lutheran Church, Barnes objected to supporting the union because it advocates pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality positions.
As part of the agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Barnes’ forced union fees, those which non-members must pay to the union for costs related to collective bargaining, will be diverted to a mutually agreed charity.
“No one should be forced to support financially an agenda they find morally objectionable,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Teachers across the country, regardless of their faith, are being shaken down to pay for this radical agenda.”
In a related highly publicized ruling last summer, the EEOC found that the National Education Association (NEA) union, the OEA’s national affiliate, is systematically discriminating against religious objectors. An Ohio teacher, Dennis Robey, brought charges against the NEA and its local affiliates after they refused to honor his religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality positions and constantly attempts to interfere with parental rights.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials may not force any employee to support financially a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. To avoid the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he or she believes to be immoral, the law requires union officials to accommodate the employee – most often by diverting the funds to a mutually acceptable charity.