Minnesota Woman Files Lawsuit Against AFSCME Union

Halloran says that during a workplace training session for a new job, she was pulled out by a union rep who had her sign a dues-authorization form—the AFSCME union rep didn’t say how much the dues would cost, and didn’t inform Halloran of her right not to pay the dues. 


Susan Halloran, an account clerk at Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, is suing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 5. AFSCME is a notorious leftwing union that claims to represent public sector employees.

Halloran says that during a workplace training session for a new job, she was pulled out by a union rep who had her sign a dues-authorization form—the AFSCME union rep didn’t say how much the dues would cost, and didn’t inform Halloran of her right not to pay the dues. 

Of course, because Halloran had just gotten the job, and because the rep confronted her during her training session, she felt pressured to sign the forms as a condition of her new employment. 

Halloran was undergoing treatment for cancer, and when she found out that the dues would cost her $700 per year—something she couldn’t afford—she reached out to the union representative the day after being pressured to sign. The union representative told her she was locked in for the next year. 

Halloran went to her human resources office for help, but found that her employer—the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities—was unwilling to offer help (often, public sector employers and bureaucracies are “in bed” with the public sector unions). 

Thankfully, the Upper Midwest Law Center and the Liberty Justice Center are helping Halloran with her suit. The Liberty Justice Center, in fact, was the non-profit group behind the landmark Janus vs. AFSCME Supreme Court ruling.

Before Janus, public sector and certain private sector employees in many states were forced to be a part of a union, or pay “agency fees” that amounted to union dues. Janus ruled instead, based on the First Amendment, that public-sector workers had to give “affirmative consent” before their paychecks could be skimmed by the union, and that paying these fees can’t be a precondition of employment. 

Halloran should have been clearly informed she did not have to join the union as part of her employment, and should have been clearly informed about the annual cost of union-dues. 

But since Janus, unions and Democrat politicians have done everything possible to twist and even violate the law, in order to make it near-impossible for employees to leave. Often, they’ve ignored the Janus ruling altogether. 

In Minnesota, a Scandia Elementary School worker sued after AFSCME refused to let her out of the union. In Massachusetts and Oregon, unions have continued to illegally deduct dues. In Washington State, union members trying to exit were told they had to wait until a 10 day “escape period,” which wasn’t publicized and wouldn’t come until the next year. These are but a few examples.

And often, as is the case with Susan Halloran, public sector employees simply aren’t aware of their rights, and the unions prey on the lack of information that many employees or prospective employees have (if you are a public sector worker, resources are available to help you know what to do). The Liberty Justice Center says it has been approached by numerous public sector employees in the state of Minnesota who are seeking help. 

A Democrat slush fund

The left tries to paint Janus and those who seek to defend the rights of public sector employees as a “well-worn tactic in the far right’s effort to undermine and exploit American workers,” which is backed by “powerful corporate interests.” 

But this isn’t private sector business, worried about bottom lines and meeting the quarterly targets. This is the often-bloated public sector. Objectively, judged by benefits and other measures, life is often easier in the public sector. There are no robber barons here. 

Really, this is about protecting a Democrat Party slush fund: Democrats grow the government, and (before Janus) mandate that government workers give to the public-sector union. That union, against many of its members’ wishes, turns around and gives oodles of money to Democrats.

Do you feel called to be a teacher, but don’t want your paycheck to go to politicians who support abortion and socialism? Before Janus, too bad.   

Note that despite what Democrats say, the big money is on their side because of this arrangement: In the last governor’s race, the DFL’s Tim Walz raised and spent almost twice as much as his GOP opponent, Jeff Johnson. Likewise, the Minnesota House and Senate DFL caucuses nearly doubled the spending of the House and Senate GOP caucuses. The DFL Party, meanwhile, spent $15 million, while the Minnesota GOP spent less than $1 million. And liberal outside groups, especially public-sector unions—which negotiate pay and benefits with politicians who can pass the cost on to future taxpayers—vastly outspent independent business-friendly and conservative groups.


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Willis Krumholz
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Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.