One of the largest unions in the U.S. may have to pay back millions to workers after the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory agency fees to public-sector unions are unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court ordered a district court to reconsider a ruling Thursday in Riffey v. Rauner, a case in which a group of Illinois home care providers sought to recover $32 million in forced dues from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The district court ruled against the workers in June 2016, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, according to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) which represented the workers in the case.
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in Janus v. AFSCME that forcing public-sector workers to pay dues to unions they are not members of infringes on the workers’ First Amendment right to free speech. (RELATED: The Supreme Court Just Handed Down Its Big Decision On Mandatory Union Dues)
NRTW appealed Riffey v. Rauner to the Supreme Court earlier this year. After ruling in Janus, SCOTUS responded to NRTW and vacated the district court’s ruling while sending it back for review and a new ruling.
“With the Supreme Court remanding Riffey, we are one step closer toward vindicating the rights of the tens of thousands of victims, many whom are family members caring for disabled children in their own homes,” NRTW President Mark Mix said in a statement. “It is long past time that the over $32 million illegally seized by SEIU union bosses be returned.”
If the district court rules against SEIU and the union is forced to pay back years of dues, the case could be the first of many similar suits costing unions millions. The Janus decision released roughly 5 million public-sector workers from paying mandatory dues. (RELATED: Public-Sector Unions Are Facing A Cascade Of Lawsuits For Skimming Workers’ Wages)
Eight class action lawsuits are pending across the U.S. where groups of workers are suing unions for taking dues from non-members paychecks.
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