In Kent State labor case, employees’ rights to resign from union reaffirmed in settlement

February 14, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Feb. 14, 2020) – Three Kent State University custodians have now become able to resign from their government union as part of a settlement in Hannay v. Board of Trustees of Kent State University.

Annamarie Hannay, Adda Gape and John Kohl filed a federal lawsuit in April 2019 alleging that their union, AFSCME Council 8, and the University illegally deducted union dues from their paychecks and trapped them in union membership without their affirmative consent. Despite the decisive victory for workers’ rights in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision, AFSCME refused to honor the resignations of these employees outside of arbitrary opt-out periods. And, Kent State University continued to deduct dues from the workers’ paychecks without their affirmative consent.

As part of the settlement that The Buckeye Institute and the Liberty Justice Center attorneys secured for their clients, the three custodians’ resignations from the union are now being honored and they will no longer be forced to pay money to AFSCME Council 8 as a condition of employment at Kent State University. In exchange, they agreed to withdraw their lawsuit against the union and University.

Ms. Hannay, Ms. Gape and Mr. Kohl are represented pro bono by The Buckeye Institute and the Liberty Justice Center. The Buckeye Institute also represents plaintiffs in Maine, Minnesota, and Ohio in cases seeking to end the unconstitutional practice of forced union exclusive representation. The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit law firm that represented the plaintiff in U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME.

“The Buckeye Institute is pleased to have obtained an amicable outcome in the settlement for our clients allowing them to exit their unions—which is consistent with their rights under the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Janus,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute. “It is unconscionable that even after Janus, Ohio’s hardworking public servants have been unconstitutionally forced to pay out of their own pockets to support political causes and speech with which they disagree.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court was extremely clear in the Janus ruling that no government employees can be required to pay union fees as a condition of employment,” said Patrick Hughes, president and co-founder of the Liberty Justice Center. “It’s unfortunate that Ms. Hannay, Ms. Gape and Mr. Kohl had to file a federal lawsuit to exercise their First Amendment rights, but we are pleased with the outcome.”


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