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Federal Judge Gives Local 150’s Anti-Free-Rider Lawsuit the Go-Ahead

On Wednesday, February 6, Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman issued an opinion allowing Local 150’s Sweeney vs. Madigan to move forward, rejecting the Illinois Attorney General’s motion to dismiss.

This lawsuit seeks to remove the statutory obligation for unions to provide services to “free-riders” in the wake of the Janus decision. It is Local 150’s position that it is unconstitutional to force unions and their dues-paying members to cover representational costs for workers who choose to pay nothing to the union. The lawsuit does not seek to undo the exclusive representation system that allows non-members to receive the wages and benefits negotiated within the agreement, but rather to remove any forced representation in disciplinary matters, including grievances and arbitrations.

Far from dismissing Local 150’s suit, Judge Coleman validated our arguments as ripe for examination, stating that Janus created an “imminent constitutional injury” against unions, whose First Amendment rights were also expanded by Janus to allow us the freedom not to associate with workers who choose not to associate with us.

The decision can be found here.

“This opinion reaffirms our position that we cannot, should not and will not be forced to represent workers who choose to pay nothing,” said Local 150 President-Business Manager James M. Sweeney. “When the Supreme Court ruled on Janus, we warned that there would be unintended consequences, and this is just the beginning. There are no free rides in Local 150.”

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