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American Expat

Judge Says Unions Do Not Have to Pay Back Fees

Another Judge has ruled that unions do not have to pay back fees collected before the Janus decision

Brian Young's picture
Feb 15, 2021

Since the Supreme Court decided that public employees did not have to pay fair share fees to cover bargaining costs for non-members, anti-union groups have been suing hoping to get these fees back. UCOMM has previously covered some of these cases. They have lost all of them, including a new case in Minnesota.

The case was brought by Anoka-Hennepin teacher Linda Hoekman and two others who sued Education Minnesota, demanding refunds for the dues and fair share fees they paid before 2018. In the decision that was issued Friday, the judge rejected the plaintiffs claim saying that Education Minnesota acted in good faith when it collected the fees and doesn’t have to issue a refund.


Hoekman was seeking dues going back to 2006 when she left the union and began paying fair share fees. Another plaintiff, Paul Hanson had only paid fair share fees while the third plaintiff, Mary “Dee” Buros was looking to regain her union dues claiming that she wasn’t told it was possible to just pay a fair share fee.

The judge also ruled on Friday that a MnDOT worker, Thomas Piekarski was not entitled to get his fees back from AFSCME Council 5.

These lawsuits are part of a national campaign to bankrupt unions. They hope to get a friendly judge to rule in their favor so that they can bring the case to the Supreme Court, where they hope the conservative majority will be more sympathetic to their case. A ruling that legally collected dues need to be paid back could cost unions hundreds of millions of dollars and effectively bankrupt the organizations.

In a statement after the ruling, Education Minnesota President Denise Specht called the lawsuits a coordinated effort to punish unions.

“We anticipate this case, and similar cases around the country, will be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court with the goal of getting a ruling that would financially cripple the union movement in the United States,” she said in a news release. “Our union is ready to the stand with other unions of working people to make our case in any courtroom.”


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