Joining the Oregon Education Association is simple for the approximately 44,000 educators who want to be members.
Leaving is not.
The union lets members leave only in September. The OEA apparently believes there’s nothing wrong with pirating dues for months from members who want to leave, trampling their First Amendment rights by forcing them to continue to pay to support causes or speech they oppose.
Three school employees in Oregon are suing the OEA to end the practice. Justice demands they win.
The employees claim the seizing of dues against their wishes violates their constitutional rights. The amounts at stake for the three employees vary. One pays about $992 a year, another about half that amount.
Two of the employees signed the agreement to join the union with the fine print that says they couldn’t leave except during September. A third refused to sign and was told he would have to keep paying through September anyway. The three are represented by the Freedom Foundation, which works to fight unions.
Do all those conditions and specifics matter? Is the OEA being fair by taking money from people for months who don’t want to belong? It’s not.
The question in this lawsuit follows from the Janus decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled that public-sector unions must stop forcing nonmembers to pay fees without their consent. The “First Amendment is violated when money is taken from nonconsenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them,” the court said.
Public-sector unions have been fighting Janus ever since. If the OEA can’t force people to join the union and pay dues, it just won’t let them leave when they want.