Union officials to issue refunds, drop policy blocking professors from exercising First Amendment right to stop subsidizing union activities

Los Angeles, CA (July 24, 2019) – A math professor from the Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD) has just finalized a settlement with American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union officials in his class-action lawsuit to enforce the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision. The lawsuit was filed for the professor in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The victory will result in refunds of dues seized from the professor and others who attempted to exercise their right to stop union payments under the Janus decision. Additionally, the settlement forces AFT union officials to drop their policy used to block the educators from exercising their Janus rights except for a brief union-determined annual escape period.

Professor Michael McCain had been paying union dues as a member of AFT since 2005, but attempted to exercise his First Amendment right to resign his membership and cut off dues in August 2018 shortly after the Janus ruling came down. Janus, which was argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys in the U.S. Supreme Court last year, struck down compulsory union fees for all public sector employees, and instead held that affirmative employee consent is required to obtain union fees from any worker.

According to the lawsuit, the AFT and VCCCD did not honor McCain’s resignation and continued to deduct dues from his paycheck, enforcing a strict “window period” policy which severely limits the time period in which a member can resign. The lawsuit also noted that McCain’s individual dues authorization card made no mention of this rule.

McCain’s attorneys argued that the AFT’s restrictive policy constituted a “violation of [his] First Amendment right not to subsidize union activity without [his] affirmative consent and known waiver of that…right, as recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME.” It requested refunds for him and other similarly situated teachers in the VCCCD of “dues deducted…without their affirmative and knowing consent.”

Rather than face Foundation attorneys and the Janus precedent in court, VCCCD and AFT officials settled the case. The union will now “fully and unconditionally” refund to McCain and other teachers who requested to stop paying union dues since Janus was decided all the dues illegally taken since the dates of their requests, plus interest. AFT and VCCCD also promised not to “adopt any policy that restricts to a yearly window period the time” when an employee can revoke his or her dues authorization.

“Michael McCain joins the ranks of educators and other government employees across the country who have successfully fought for and defended their First Amendment rights under Janus from union boss schemes like annual ‘escape periods,’ which serve no purpose other than to continue the flow of illegal dues into union coffers,” said National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “All American workers deserve the freedom that Janus promises, and Foundation attorneys will keep fighting for them in the dozens of cases already filed and many more if necessary.”