The day last June the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed compulsory union dues and fees, Patrick Freeman printed a letter from the Freedom Foundation’s OptOutToday.com website and mailed it to Oregon AFSCME 75, requesting that his dues payments cease immediately.
On July 10, Sam Austin, AFSCME 75’s former administrative services manager, informed Freeman he could be a non-member, but that AFSCME 75 would continue taking his money until Feb. 15 because of a five-day opt-out window written into the union’s collective bargaining agreement.
Approximately two weeks later, Freeman received another letter from AFSCME 75, this time from Stephanie Swan. She contradicted the previous letter, stating that his dues would be deducted until Jan. 24, 2019 — the anniversary of when he became a union member.
To complicate matters even further, on Oct. 25, Freeman received another letter from Swan letting him know that AFSCME 75 would notify his employer to stop all dues deductions.
Not that it mattered. All three dates passed and the union continued skimming money from his paycheck.
That’s when Freeman contacted the Freedom Foundation, which promptly fired off a letter demanding clarification of the confusing trail of conflicting letters and opt-out dates.
AFSCME 75 passed the buck to the county, maintaining that it had already been notified to stop the dues payments. That excuse, however, left out a few pertinent details, such as the fact that the union had willingly accepted the dues the county deducted in the meantime.
AFSCME 75’s policy is to keep the dues authorizations and simply hand the employer a list of employees from whom to deduct dues. And under the current CBA, AFSCME 75 holds the employer harmless for any liability regarding dues deductions.
The union should take responsibility for its actions instead of feebly pointing fingers at the county.
Although AFSCME 75 did not admit its wrongdoing, it nonetheless issued Freeman a refund for his wrongfully deducted dues. He is finally free of union oppression, thanks to Freedom Foundation.
Patrick Freeman’s episode just highlights the fact that if AFSCME 75 itself finds its window scheme for opting out to be confusing, is it any wonder workers do, too? Or that it’s at least semi-intentional?
If AFSCME 75 were to stop dues payments upon receipt of opt-out letters instead of creating ridiculous opt-out windows, it would save everyone a lot of headache.
Don’t hold your breath waiting, though.