A national nonprofit has sued Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the state’s largest union for government employees over a contract that allegedly violates workers’ First Amendment rights.
According to the lawsuit, obtained by The Cleveland Plain Dealer, DeWine is listed as a defendant in his official capacity as governor. The lawsuit claims that DeWine and Ohio Department of Administrative Services Director Matthew Damschroder are “parties to a collective bargaining agreement” reached with the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA).
That agreement, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, violates the First Amendment rights of employees to stop union dues payments.
According to a press release, the agreement only allows employees to opt out of paying union dues during a brief “escape period” once every three years at the “expiration of the union monopoly bargaining agreement.” The lawsuit calls these opt-out periods “union-created restrictions” forced upon “tens of thousands of state workers.”
The lawsuit comes in the wake of the landmark Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision, which the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation successfully argued. That decision recognized that any dues taken without a government worker’s affirmative consent violate the First Amendment.
A press release explains that DeWine and Damschroder are named in the lawsuit because “the state is seizing the dues from workers’ paychecks and enforcing the restriction.”
“Over a year ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public employees’ financial support of union activities must be completely voluntary, but the state of Ohio continues to enforce illegal union policies that violate the clear standards laid out in the Janus decision,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Governor DeWine and Attorney General Yost should move quickly to stop this widespread violation of the First Amendment rights of Ohio public sector workers and cease collecting union dues from any worker who has not affirmatively consented to pay dues.”
According to its website, OCSEA represents more than 30,000 state and local government employees in Ohio, and its members negotiate a contract with the state every three years. The current version of that contract, which expires in February 2021, is the subject of the lawsuit.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is representing five state workers in the lawsuit. DeWine hasn’t publicly commented on the matter. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Mike DeWine” by Mike DeWine.