Public-sector unions often shroud themselves in impenetrable secrecy, typically in the form of layers of bureaucracy, leaving members in total ignorance of why their money is being taken, let alone what it is being used for. Union members cannot get adequate explanations — or any explanation at all —from their unions.
Rex Yoder works for the Salem-Keizer School District and is represented by the Oregon Education Association (OEA). He opted to become a non-member fee-payer (“fair-share payer”) to avoid as much of the political agenda as he could, because he does not agree with the political agenda and activities of OEA.
In June 2018, he learned he would no longer be charged these “fair-share” fees thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.
When the school year started up again, however, and he received his first paycheck, Mr. Yoder found that full union dues were being withheld — amounting to more than $100 per month.
He was confused because he knew he hadn’t agreed that any of money should go to the union, and he assumed a simple phone call would correct the error.
He was wrong.
Calls to both the OEA and the school district payroll office (which initially referred him back to the OEA) produced no assistance or explanation. In an attempt to clear things up, Mr. Yoder sent a formal letter obtained from the Freedom Foundation website to OEA revoking any continuing membership or dues authorization.
To no avail. Dues continued to be withdrawn from his paychecks.
After months awaiting a response from the union, Mr. Yoder reached out to the Freedom Foundation for assistance. The organization’s attorneys sent a letter to the OEA on Mr. Yoder’s behalf demanding refund of his money, review of his membership status and an explanation.
Within a week, Mr. Yoder received a check including a full refund of the money wrongfully withdrawn and OEA’s counsel politely expressed the desire to resolve the matter.
Mr. Yoder is relieved and grateful to be able to go forward this school year without funding politics that go against his deeply held beliefs.
While the union did not explain why they took Mr. Yoder’s money without his consent, we are happy that OEA decided to honor his First Amendment rights, even if belatedly.
Hopefully this victory for individual rights will be repeated many times over as Oregon public-sector workers exercise their First Amendment freedoms.