Chicago Transit Worker Hits Back Against Union Bosses for Illegally Seizing Dues

Earlier this month, Chicago Transit Authority worker Benito Casanova submitted a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in a class lawsuit action suit that he filed against the International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 701 union.

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys helped provide legal aid in this case.

Casanova is requesting the Supreme Court to take up his case, which aims to get a ruling that will compel IAM officials to return dues they seized from Casanova’s and other non-union workers’ paychecks. Casanova believes that these dues were collected in violation of the workers’ First Amendment rights as established by the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision.

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National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens commented on the case:

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For decades, union officials violated public employees’ rights by forcing them to pay union fees just to keep their jobs. In the 2018 Janus decision the Supreme Court finally recognized that this was a First Amendment violation, and observed that it was ‘hard to estimate how many billions of dollars have been taken from nonmembers and transferred to public-sector unions’ in violation of the Constitution.

Mr. Casanova’s case is one of many at the High Court or making their way to the High Court seeking that, within the statute of limitations, illegally-seized forced dues be returned to the victims whose rights were violated. It is critical that the Supreme Court take up this issue, either in this case or the already fully-briefed Janus v. AFSCME cert petition.

In the Janus decision, the Court ruled that public sector workers could not be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. In addition, union fees could only be collected from worker paychecks with their affirmative consent. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that IAM officials could keep the dues they illegally seized, which spurred Casanova’s petition to the Supreme Court.

In email correspondence with LCN, a NRTW spokesperson said the following:

The continuation of Janus, in which plaintiff Mark Janus (a former Illinois child support specialist) is similarly seeking a refund of dues seized unconstitutionally before the Janus decision, is also awaiting a writ of certiorari from the High Court. Foundation attorneys represent him and other public workers in about 20 cases seeking the return of over $120 million in unconstitutionally seized dues.

NRTW has been one of the premier labor watchdog organizations in the last few decades and can be counted on to defend worker interests from overly ambitious union bosses.

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