Seven Pa. workers want their union dues back

Last year, a Supreme Court decision made it illegal for public sector unions to compel non-members to pay dues. Some non-members are now trying to recoup that money.

  • Katie Meyer

(Harrisburg) — Seven people who work or have worked for Pennsylvania’s state government are suing in hopes of getting back union dues they paid.

The suit was filed by the same nonprofits who brought last year’s landmark Janus case, in which the US Supreme Court ruled public sector unions can’t take dues from non-members.

Until recently, lead plaintiff David Schaszberger was a statistical analyst in Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry.

Labor union AFSCME represents many of the workers there. Schaszberger was never a member, but as was the case in many unionized workplaces, he still had dues deducted from his checks.

“Over the course of my 11 years with the commonwealth, they took about $4,000 out of my pay,” he said at a press conference announcing the suit.

He said he never joined AFSCME because he saw it as a political group that didn’t align with his beliefs, and said he doesn’t think the union’s efforts benefited him.

The Janus case ended AFSCME and other unions’ ability to force those payments, and the unions and the state say they have stopped accordingly.

Now, the Liberty Justice Center and National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are trying to get some of that money back from AFSCME. They filed a similar suit against Pennsylvania’s chapter of anther public sector union, SEIU, over the summer.

Rick Bloomingdale, head of Pennsylvania’s AFL-CIO, with which AFSCME is affiliated, called the lawsuit frivolous.

“If something’s the law and you follow the law, you shouldn’t be penalized for following the law just because it’s now not the law,” he said.

Of Schaszberger, he added, “I would just tell the guy if he doesn’t like what the union did, give back his healthcare, give back his holidays, give back his pay increases.”

A statute of limitations restricts the plaintiffs to recouping dues they paid from November 2017 to June 2018.

They estimate it could be $3 million for around 10,000 workers.

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