The Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OASPE) never ceases to amaze when it comes to the unnecessary and unconstitutional complications they shovel out to the people who choose to exercise their rights by revoking their union membership.
Earlier this month the Freedom Foundation received a constituent referral from State Representative Laura Lanese’s (R-Grove City) office about an individual who needed assistance to bring an end to his opt out horror story. This individual, who will remain nameless due to pending litigation, took careful steps to follow OAPSE’s opt out process and yet in the end he was still denied his freedom.
In June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to require taxpayer-funded employees to be members of a government union as a condition of employment in the landmark case, Janus v. AFSCME. The Janus decision recognized the fundamental free speech and association rights of public employees, but government unions responded by deviously creating “escape periods” in a desperate attempt to preserve their funding source by making it more difficult to resign membership.
These escape periods vary by union and can range from 10 to 30 days within a contract, which averages three years. These short windows are the only times unions will acknowledge member opt out requests; however, knowing exactly when to make the request can be near impossible for an employee to determine.
More often than not employees submit opt out requests only to get rejected on the grounds that they don’t have the right to opt out “yet” or their chance to leave the union had already passed. Sadly, after numerous failed attempts to opt out, most employees become discouraged and give up, resigning themselves to the dues collections each paycheck and that their voices will continue to go unheard.
The individual referred to the Freedom Foundation, however, wasn’t taking “no” for an answer. His OAPSE opt out window was 10 days between August 20-30. He paid close attention to the meticulous details and sent his opt out request via certified mail just before his opt out period began. His request was received on the 18th and OAPSE acknowledged his opt out soon after and dues collection was discontinued.
Not surprisingly, all progress for this employee would soon head the opposite direction when OAPSE informed him that his opt out card was received two days too early and because of this their decision to grant him his freedom was reversed and dues would once again be deducted from his pay.
OAPSE is no stranger to this disgusting behavior, and just a year ago settled a lawsuit brought against them by a Cincinnati school bus driver. OAPSE bowed out of the case because they knew they were wrong to try to trap the employee with their unconstitutional opt out window tactic. That settlement is eerily similar to the case we have recently taken on.
Your Freedom Foundation takes pride in the fact that we offer education and guidance through the opt out process, but we also take great pride in the fact that we have the power to help individuals with nightmarish stories, such as the one above, in a legal manner.
Just like this brave individual, the Freedom Foundation also refuses to take “no” for an answer. The Freedom Foundation is here to protect and defend any American who suffers under greedy union bullies. We will keep fighting for this brave school employee, because every American has the right to exercise their First Amendment right not just during predatory escape periods, but 365 days out of every year.