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South Jersey Bus Drivers Win Back Illegally-Seized Union Dues in First Amendment Lawsuit

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Camden NJ , Camden-area South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) driver Tyron Foxworth and six of his colleagues have prevailed in their federal lawsuit charging the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 196 (IFPTE) union with violating their First Amendment rights.

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With free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Foxworth and his coworkers filed a complaint in May stating that IFPTE union officials had illegally seized dues money from their paychecks after their resignations from the union were supposed to take effect.

A settlement has now required IFPTE union officials to return to Foxworth and several other drivers all dues money taken from their paychecks unconstitutionally, plus interest. The settlement also bars the IFPTE union from demanding or seizing any dues from the drivers going forward.

The drivers argued that IFPTE officials violated their First Amendment rights recognized in the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. In Janus, the Court declared it a First Amendment violation to force public sector workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. It also ruled that union officials can only deduct money from the paycheck of a public sector employee who has voluntarily waived his or her Janus rights.

The federal civil rights lawsuit explains the drivers signed cards that said employees could request a stop to dues deductions effective either the January or July following the request. The drivers reported that they all resigned and demanded dues cease a few months prior to January 2022, but, in contradiction to the cards, dues money kept flowing from their paychecks after January 1, 2022, passed.

IFPTE Officials Subjected Drivers to Restrictions They Never Knew About, Seized Their Money After Drivers Requested Stop

According to Foxworth and his colleagues, IFPTE union officials maintained a more restrictive dues deduction scheme. The union’s monopoly bargaining contract with SJTA recognizes dues opt-outs only in July, not in January and July as provided by the cards the workers signed. The drivers never consented to this greater restriction.

Foundation attorneys argued that IFPTE union officials, by taking union dues after January 1, 2022, without the workers’ consent, “violate[d] Plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to free speech and association.”

This is the latest of numerous Foundation-won settlements to vindicate American public workers’ First Amendment Janus rights. In the past few years, class-action lawsuits brought by Foundation staff attorneys have led to settlements freeing tens of thousands of Ohio public employees from American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union schemes illegally restricting the exercise of their Janus rights.

Foundation attorneys have also just filed a petition to the Supreme Court for several Southern California lifeguards. They seek to knock down a so-called “maintenance of membership” scheme that California Statewide Law Enforcement Agency (CSLEA) union officials are using to trap the lifeguards in full dues payments and membership years after they resigned, in clear violation of Janus.

“IFPTE union officials acted like the First Amendment Janus rights of Mr. Foxworth and his colleagues did not even exist. They ignored the drivers’ clear requests to cut off financial support of union activities, all under the guise of a dues policy to which union officials had never gotten workers’ consent,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “We’re proud to have helped Mr. Foxworth and his fellow drivers defend their rights, but we’re also acutely aware that union officials across the country are still concocting ways to circumvent the rights protections of Janus.”

“Public employees who are dealing with union officials who ignore or limit the exercise of their Janus rights should not hesitate to contact the Foundation for free legal assistance,” 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 about 250 cases per year. Its web address is

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