National Right to Work Foundation Legal Notice: Requirements claiming to block resignation of union membership violate First Amendment
Puerto Rico (November 14, 2018) – In response to a Puerto Rico superior court ruling purporting to require executive branch employees to wait up to a year before resigning from a union and ending dues payments, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have issued a Special Legal Notice for all Puerto Rico government employees who wish to exercise their right to cut off support for a union.
The notice can be found here: https://www.nrtw.org/prjanus/
A Spanish language version can be found here: https://www.nrtw.org/es/prjanus/
The notice comes after a September 25 ruling by the Puerto Rico superior court asserting that executive branch employees can be forced to wait one year before they can legally resign from a union and withdraw their dues deduction authorization. The judge ruled for union officials who erroneously claimed that the Supreme Court’s Janus decision only applies to non-union workers.
Under Janus, all public sector employees have the right to resign their union membership and stop any financial payments to union officials. The Supreme Court decision made it clear that public workers must opt-in to any union payments and that any payment made without a worker’s voluntary consent is a violation of that employee’s First Amendment right.
Under a section of Puerto Rico Law 134, employees of the Puerto Rico executive branch can only end dues payments a full year after their dues deduction authorizations’ effective date. However, that requirement conflicts with the June Supreme Court ruling in Janus and is no longer enforceable.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, released the following statement regarding the notice:
“Contrary to the wishes of Puerto Rico union bosses, under the Supreme Court’s landmark Janus decision, public sector employees have a First Amendment right to resign from a union and cut off financial support for union activities at any time. That constitutional right cannot be limited by union policies, regulation, or statute.
“Any public employee in Puerto Rico who has been blocked from stopping union payments, as is their right under Janus, should immediately contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for free legal assistance.”
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys already represent workers in lawsuits across the country who have been wrongly blocked from exercising their rights under Janus. In Puerto Rico, staff attorneys represent Reynaldo Cruz, a plant operator at the Puerto Rico Sewer and Water Authority, as he fights to exercise his Janus rights to resign his union membership.
Because of the numerous requests from workers for information about their rights under the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision, the Foundation established MyJanusRights.org to educate public employees about their protections under Janus.
The site also enables workers to request free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation if their rights are not being respected by union officials.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.