The Potluck

Appellate court sides with unions in dispute over refund of fees

By: - July 25, 2022 3:26 pm

A federal appellate court ruled in favor of unions, including Education Minnesota, of which Denise Specht is president. Courtesy photo.

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that four public workers are not entitled to a refund of past union fees, a victory for government unions.

The case has to do with so-called fair share fees, which unions collect from nonunion workers for bargaining and to enforce labor contracts.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gathering “fair share” fees was unconstitutional in a landmark case called Janus v. AFSCME.

Three teachers sued Education Minnesota shortly after the Janus decision, seeking a refund. 

The fourth state employee works for the Minnesota Department of Transportation and also sought a refund of his past fees prior to 2018.

The appellate court on Monday agreed with the U.S. District Court of Minnesota that the unions acted lawfully in gathering the fair share fees from employees, as it was prior to the Supreme Court’s decision.

By winning the case, the unions prevented a wave of nonunion workers seeking refunds for pre-Janus fair share fees, which could have put a strain on public sector union finances.

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues. For two years she was also a corps member with Report for America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms and news deserts. She lives in St. Paul and likes to knit and watch documentaries in her free time.

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