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Public employees who paid mandatory dues to government unions are not entitled to refunds, despite a Supreme Court decision striking down such agency fee arrangements as unconstitutional, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
The high court’s 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision, which said the agency fee scheme violates First Amendment rights, overturned a 1977 precedent that expressly authorized such collections. Because the defendant union assessed fees pursuant to the 1977 case and a parallel Washington law, the 9th Circuit said it was acting in good faith and is not required to pay reimbursements.
Union - Fault - Reliance - State - Law
“The Union bears no fault for acting in reliance on state law and Supreme Court precedent,” Judge Jacqueline Nguyen’s decision for a unanimous three-judge panel reads. “It collected and spent fees under the assumption — sanctioned by the nation’s highest court — that its conduct was constitutional. And the Union provided a service to contributing employees in exchange for the agency fees it received.”
Nguyen added that the union is “not required to forecast changing winds at the Supreme Court.”
Unions - Agency - Fees - Janus - Ruling
Unions collected agency fees prior to the Janus ruling because many state and local governments designate particular labor groups as official collective bargaining partners. As such, the unions represented both members and non-members in negotiations over salary and benefits.
Nguyen said that makes restitutionary payments all the more suspect, since in her view the plaintiffs benefitted from the union’s representation.
Law - Employees - Wrong
“It is true that, under current law, the employees suffered a constitutional wrong for which they may have no...
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