HARRISBURG, Pa. (Aug. 12, 2019) – A new class action lawsuit filed against a Pennsylvania union demands illegal union fees be refunded to social services employees for the Commonwealth. If successful, approximately 2,000 employees could recoup as much as $1 million in illegal union fees they paid between 2017 and 2018.
For decades, Pennsylvania required state employees who were not union members to pay hundreds of dollars a year in “agency fees” to government unions. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME ended the practice of requiring government employees to fund government unions as a condition of working in public service. The new lawsuit, Kioussis v. SEIU Local 668, demands the union pay back the illegal union fees taken from non-members prior to the Court’s ruling in Janus.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The non-profit law firms also represented the plaintiff in the Janus case.
“Pennsylvania workers paid mandatory fees to government unions for decades just to hold a job. The Supreme Court ruled this practice is unconstitutional and these government workers are now entitled to get back the money illegally taken from them,” said Patrick Hughes, president and co-founder of the Liberty Justice Center.
The plaintiff in this case is Catherine Kioussis, who has been an income maintenance supervisor for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 2008. During her time working for the state, she has paid $450 per year in agency fees to SEIU Local 668, despite never being a member of the union.
Kioussis is seeking a refund of union fees she and other Pennsylvania employees paid from August 7, 2017, through June 27, 2018 – the time period permitted under the Pennsylvania statute of limitations. If she is successful, all Pennsylvania social services workers who were not union members but paid fees to SEIU Local 668 during that time period could receive refunds. While the employees could be entitled to about one year of union fees, most employees paid much more in illegal union fees over the course of their public service careers.
“As the Supreme Court made clear in Janus last year, union bosses have seized forced union dues from hundreds of thousands of nonmember government workers in violation of the First Amendment. This includes the thousands of Pennsylvania state workers this case is filed for, who join public employees across the country in simply seeking the return of money that never should have been taken from them in the first place,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “We’re proud to stand with Catherine Kioussis in her fight for overdue justice from the SEIU bosses who profited from violating her rights for years.”
The new class action lawsuit, Kioussis v. SEIU Local 668, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. A copy of the case is available here: https://libertyjusticecenter.org/cases/kioussis-v-seiu-local-668/.