The Center Square

Another Union Lawsuit Filed in Illinois over First, Fourteenth Amendments, Janus

April 8, 2020

(The Center Square) – An Illinois teacher is filing suit against a school district and union claiming her rights are being violated under the provisions of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 landmark ruling in Janus v AFSCME.

Ariadna Ramon Baro, a visiting teacher at Waukegan High School sued the Lake County Federation of Teachers Local 504, IFT-AFT/AFLCIO and the Waukegan Community Unit School District #60. The lawsuit, which also claims violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, was filed on April 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Ramon Baro is represented by the Liberty Justice Center, which won the 2018 Supreme Court case.

During the first year of a three-year cultural exchange program in 2019, Ramon Baro, a J-1 Visa holder from Barcelona, attended a teacher orientation organized by the Waukegan Community Unit School District 60. Representatives of the Lake County Federation of Teachers Union participated in the orientation. At no time during the orientation was any teacher informed that union membership and dues were optional, the complaint alleges.

The claim also cites an email sent to Ramon Baro by a union representative that reads, “…you will pay union dues regardless whether or not you are a member.”

“Ms. Ramon Baro did not know of her Janus rights and believed that she had to join the union and pay union dues,” Jeffrey Schwab, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center, argues. “Neither the union nor the school district provided her with any information about her right to not join the union or not pay union dues. Even worse, a union representative sent an email to all teachers falsely claiming that they would pay union dues even if they did not join the union, a practice that the Supreme Court found unconstitutional in Janus.”

In Janus, the Supreme Court ruled that no government employee, including public school teachers, can be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment and 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, the center argues.

After being notified of Ramon Baro’s concerns, the school district continued to deduct dues from her paycheck on behalf of the union.

“How many other educators have been misled, and don’t even know their rights?” Ramon Baro asked in a prepared statement. “If the school district withheld this information from me and the union gave me blatantly false information, then who is looking out for me and protecting my rights?”

Ramon Baro wants to teach her students without being a union member and without having to pay union dues. Her lawsuit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, in addition to damages in the amount of the dues previously deducted from her paychecks.

Mark Janus was employed by the state of Illinois and required to pay union fees to AFSCME even though he didn’t join and didn’t support their causes. He has since filed a lawsuit seeking to collect the back dues he was required to pay.