Ohio labor board finds cause to believe union discriminated

Ohio labor board finds cause to believe union discriminated

Ohio labor board finds cause to believe union discriminated

The Ohio Association of Public School Employees AFSCME Local 4/Local 673 (OAPSE) messed with the wrong group of ladies when it unlawfully deprived seven Freedom Foundation represented Southington (Ohio) School District workers of compensation they rightly deserved, and the Ohio State Employment Relations Board (SERB) agrees.

On Aug. 31, SERB ruled that probable cause exists to believe OAPSE unlawfully discriminated against the employees by denying them a share of $8,000 in compensation the school district gave the union to distribute to all employees in the bargaining unit for work they performed over and above their normal job duties.

SERB also directed that a complaint be filed and a hearing be scheduled.

By law, OAPSE must represent every worker in the bargaining unit, even nonmembers. Accordingly, it also had the obligation to distribute the money to all employees but, to the surprise of exactly no one, OAPSE refused to pay compensation to the seven employees in the bargaining unit who had resigned their union membership.

This was OAPSE’s way of retaliating against the non-union employees for having the audacity to keep their own money in their own pockets instead of funding a union that long ago began prioritizing its political and social agenda over advocating for workers. Unfortunately for OAPSE, retaliating against employees because they exercise their First Amendment rights violates not just the U.S. Constitution, but also Ohio law.

For its part, the Southington School District clearly made a bad decision when it entrusted OAPSE with $8,000 in employee compensation, and one certainly does not need hindsight to know that OAPSE would end up discriminating against employees who have the courage to stand up to union bullying.

But here we are.

The union argued that it distributed the money based on legitimate considerations, but this façade becomes difficult to maintain considering an OAPSE representative called one of the employees who had inadvertently been sent a check and demanded it be returned because the union learned the employee had recently resigned union membership. Incredibly, the union operative threatened her with a lawsuit if she did not repay the money – which, by the way, also constitutes a violation of Ohio law and the First Amendment.

The union also claimed it distributed the compensation to only union members because, it claimed, only union members did the work necessary to earn the compensation. However, most of the “work” OAPSE claimed the union members performed related to internal union affairs which (a) don’t benefit the public and should not be funded by the taxpayers in the first place, and, (b) in any case, OAPSE prohibits non-union employees from doing this kind of work.

Throw in the fact that OAPSE never bothered to even ask the non-union employees what kind of work they did that entitled them to the compensation (which they did perform) and it becomes even patently obvious the union simply paid out the money to union members regardless of actual work performed.

OAPSE most assuredly believed it would get away with its illegal behavior. In fact, the union probably didn’t even give it a second thought. But again, OAPSE tried to bully the wrong group of bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

They’re standing up for their rights and, at least for today, SERB stands with them.

Senior Litigation Counsel
James serves as the Foundation’s Senior Litigation Counsel. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation, James served several years as in-house counsel for a company in Ohio where he garnered experience in commercial litigation and corporate law. He earned his law degree from Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia where he graduated with honors and served as the International Editor on the Regent Journal of International Law. While in law school, James clerked at The Alabama Supreme Court and The Supreme Court of Virginia. Additionally, he served as an intern with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the American Center for Law & Justice, and Americans United for Life. He also worked as a graduate assistant, served on the Honor Council, and was a Blackstone Fellow in the Alliance Defense Fund Blackstone Fellowship. James also earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California and a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Comparative Religion from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. James is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and cheers passionately for the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals. However, his family connections down South spawn loyalty to the only legitimate college football team in the State of Alabama—the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. James also enjoys involvement in church, exploring the United States, poker nights, movies, time with friends and family, and passionately advocating freedom-loving ideas wherever he goes.