Columbus Employee Sues Union Over Mandatory Dues

Mar 15, 2019

A city of Columbus employee is challenging a provision in her union contract that limits when she can opt out of paying dues.

In deciding the Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June that public sector unions could not collect fees from non-members.

Connie Pennington, who works for the city of Columbus’ Recreation and Parks Department, dropped her union membership and rescinded authorization to deduct dues from her paycheck shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, but she says the union would not allow her to stop paying dues until the current contract expires in 2020.

With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Pennington filed a federal class action lawsuit Wednesday against Communication Workers of America Local 4502, arguing employees should be able to exit the union whenever they wish.

“Ms. Pennington joins many other public sector workers across the country in standing up to Big Labor’s coercion,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, in an emailed statement.

“Union officials have a long history of creating obstacles such as ‘escape period’ schemes, arbitrary union-enacted limitations trapping workers into forced dues. This case shows that the National Right to Work Foundation must remain vigilant to protect government employees’ rights under Janus,” Mix wrote.

Pennington’s lawsuit also seeks reimbursement for dues employees paid without affirmative consent.

Union officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.