(The Center Square) – Attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation want the U.S. Supreme Court to take up two civil rights cases seeking to enforce workers’ rights to leave their public employee unions.
Chicago Public Schools educators Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi, whose lawsuit against the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Board of Education challenges an “escape period,” that limits workers from exercising their right to terminate dues and deductions from their paychecks to the month of August.
Staff Attorney Bill Messenger of the Right to Work Foundation said that these escape periods are not in line with Janus v. AFSCME case from 2018. In Janus, the court ruled that no public worker can be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of keeping his or her job.
Messenger said the August escape period was right before the start of the school year on purpose.
"I think that the fact that the escape period is in August, isn't an accident,” Messenger said. “They do it when the teachers and students are not around and not necessarily thinking of their union contracts."
Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi were not informed of their rights, Messenger said. He said that was part of the reason for the lawsuit.
"Indiana has implemented a law, in which for a teacher to sign a contract they must sign a sheet with their constitutional rights first so that they know what their rights are." Messenger said. "Illinois is not set up that way and that's why a lot of their teachers are facing this problem."
The Chicago Teachers Union did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case.
The National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said escape periods put employees at a disadvantage.
“Escape periods’ like those forced on Troesch and Nkemdi, serve no purpose other than to keep the hard-earned cash of public servants who oppose union officials’ so-called ‘representation’ flowing into union coffers even after those employees have clearly exercised their First Amendment right to object to such payments,” he said.