Ariadna Ramon Baro is from Spain and is in her first year of a three-year cultural exchange program teaching at Waukegan High School. After arriving in the United States in summer 2019, she attended an orientation run by officials from the Waukegan Community Unit School District 60 where union representatives from the Lake County Federation of Teachers also presented. At no time during the orientation did the union or school district tell the new teachers that union membership and dues were optional.
Ms. Ramon Baro received an email from a union representative stating “…you will pay union dues regardless whether or not you are a member.” As the Supreme Court said in 2018, this is a violation of First Amendment rights and the information provided to her by the union was patently false. Upon being notified of the problem, the school district refused to honor her First Amendment Rights and continued to deduct dues from her paycheck on behalf of the union.
Despite the misinformation provided to Ms. Baro, the Lake County Federation of Teachers and Waukegan High School will not let her stop paying dues. She’s now represented by the Liberty Justice Center, the nonprofit law firm that represented plaintiff Mark Janus in the landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that government employees, including public school teachers, cannot be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of working in public service. The Supreme Court also said that union dues can only be deducted from employees’ paychecks if they “freely” give “clear and affirmative” consent. Government employees cannot freely consent to paying union dues if they don’t know they have a right to refuse to pay.
This case represents a new line of workers’ rights cases being brought by the Liberty Justice Center that seek to ensure that government employers and unions do not withhold union dues from employees unless they first ensure that such employees have knowledge of their Janus rights by informing them of such rights.