With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Plainville Community School District educator Christina Corvello successfully exercised her First Amendment right to stop subsidizing the activities of a union she opposes.
Despite Connecticut Education Association (CEA) union officials trying to restrict the exercise of her right to a narrow span of days several months away known as an “escape period,” Corvello was able to opt-out of the union before the “escape period” and is no longer paying dues to the CEA hierarchy.
Corvello invoked her rights under the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision, in which the Justices recognized that no public worker can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of getting or keeping a job. The High Court in Janus also ruled it a First Amendment violation to seize dues from a public employee’s paycheck without his or her affirmative consent.
Educator Believed Union Policies Were Detrimental, but Union Officials Tried to Force Her to Pay Dues
Corvello grew dissatisfied with CEA officials’ policies, including COVID-19 restrictions promoted by union officials, which she believed worked against the interests of students and teachers. When Corvello tried to raise concerns regarding these issues, union officials disregarded her and treated her with disrespect. After union officials ignored her pleas for support and change, Corvello decided to end her union membership and terminate dues deductions.
With guidance from Foundation attorneys, in November 2021 she began sending messages — through email and certified mail — to both union and school officials. In her correspondence, she tried to exit the union and stop dues deductions based on her First Amendment rights recognized in Janus. But the CEA denied her requests to stop funding the union. CEA bosses stated that she could only stop payments yearly during August. Corvello, however, remained undeterred. She continued to ask the union to stop taking her money.
After trying for five months to leave the union and stop funding it, CEA union officials finally backed down in March 2022 after Corvello contacted Foundation attorneys. Dues deductions then stopped.
Battle by Public Servants to Knock Down Union Boss-Invented Janus Restrictions Continues
Corvello’s victory comes at a time when union bosses across the country are trying to defend schemes they use to undermine public sector workers’ Janus rights, including so-called “maintenance of membership” provisions. In a Foundation-backed case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Savas v. California Statewide Law Enforcement Agency (CSLEA), several California lifeguards are challenging CSLEA union officials’ continued dues seizures from the lifeguards’ paychecks even after they ended their union memberships.
Union bosses alleged that the lifeguards had agreed to “maintenance of membership” language in their contracts that trapped them in union ranks for almost four years after they tried to resign. The contracts did not inform the lifeguards that they were waiving their First Amendment right under Janus to abstain from union financial support for that period of time.
“Even after Janus, public sector union officials routinely trample the First Amendment rights of workers they claim to ‘represent’ in order to fill their coffers with coerced union dues and fees,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Such malfeasance often includes limiting these rights to a phony, narrow ‘escape period,’ not informing workers of when they are waiving Janus rights, and not even telling workers that they have these rights in the first place.”
“American public sector workers should know that they can’t be forced to subsidize or associate with a union of which they disapprove. The National Right to Work Foundation is proud to serve as a resource for information on workers’ rights and to provide free legal representation to workers when union officials refuse to comply with Janus,” Mix added.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.