Mackinac Center Files Lawsuits Against New Jersey Unions for Failing to Respect Workers’ Opt Out Rights
New Jersey’s Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act violates Supreme Court decision Janus v. AFSCME
Friday, June 7, 2019|Font size:
MIDLAND, MICH. — The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation has filed three separate lawsuits on behalf of New Jersey public employees who face barriers to exercising their First Amendment rights to opt out of paying their government union.
Jody Lutter, a nurse in Essex County, Lisa Grega, an employee at The College of New Jersey, and Michael Kopie, an employee of New Jersey’s Department of Transportation, have all attempted to leave their union. However, New Jersey’s Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act — signed into law last May — restricts their ability to opt out of union membership to a short “window” of “10 days following each anniversary date” of their employment. The law was written in order to lessen the effects of last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, a decision that strengthened worker freedom by allowing public employees to stop membership and payment to government unions without fear of losing their jobs.
"I’m simply attempting to exercise my constitutional right to withdraw from my union, and it’s unjust to be told this freedom is somehow limited to a small window of time" explained Lutter, who has been employed by the Essex County Hospital Center in Cedar Grove for the past eight years.
The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation’s lawsuits on behalf of Lutter, Grega and Kopie challenge the constitutionality of New Jersey’s WDEA, asserting that unions cannot constrict public employees’ exercise of their First Amendment rights with an arbitrary opt-out window.
“For 37 years, New Jersey public employees were trusted with the right to resign at any time,” said Patrick Wright, vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. “Then, a 10-day a year resignation limit was imposed to frustrate those employees’ First Amendment rights. This is unconstitutional.”
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