Federal Court sided with Minnesota teachers union, rules non-members not entitled to refunds – InForum

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota teachers are not entitled to reimbursement of so-called “fair share” fees they paid to unions in the years leading up to a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring the fees unconstitutional .

That was the ruling of an appeals court this week in a federal lawsuit that is part of a larger nationwide effort to force public sector employee unions to retroactively reimburse millions to nonmembers. Unions in Minnesota had for decades collected these fees to pay for collective bargaining efforts.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers’ union and three public school districts in its decision.

A panel agreed that the statewide union, along with three local unions, had followed the law in the four decades leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case known as of Janus against AFSCME.

Union leaders hailed this week’s appeals court ruling as a victory for unions and said it reaffirmed their past use of fair share fees. Until the Janus case overturned an earlier court ruling, civil servant unions could charge these fees to non-union members who benefited from their collective bargaining activities.

“The national, coordinated legal strategy to destroy public sector worker unions for standing up for their members and their communities has suffered another loss,” Minnesota Education President Denise Specht said.

Opponents expressed disappointment with the decision, arguing that educators were unfairly forced to fund union activities they disagreed with.

“Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that such deductions violated public sector employees’ First Amendment rights, the union can keep those dollars,” said Catrin Wigfall, director of the advocacy group Educated. Teachers MN and Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment. .

The organization launched an effort to woo educators in the wake of the 2018 Janus ruling, directing teachers to liability insurance providers they would lose if they refused to join a union.

Educated Teachers organizers say educators aligned with their position disagree with their local union’s strong support for Democratic candidates and political organizing — activities the fair share fee has been banned from. funding.

Prior to the Janus decision, Education Minnesota was collecting fair fees from nearly 5,700 nonunion members, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported in 2020.

That year, a federal judge refused to certify the case as a class action, saying the three Minnesota educators were suing their unions for reimbursement of fair share costs — Linda Hoekman of Anoka-Hennepin District , Mary Buros of the Shakopee District and Paul Hanson of the Centennial District — did not do so for somewhat similar reasons.

Specht, the president of Education Minnesota, and Wigfall with Educated Teachers said the case could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Both sides said they would be ready for an additional legal fight if that happened.

©2022 StarTribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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