Eagle Point School District employees sue union, cite First Amendment infringement

MEDFORD, Ore.– Two Eagle Point School District employees filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the state’s largest teachers union, Oregon Education Association, for not letting them stop paying their dues.

The plaintiffs in the case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Medford, are arguing it is unfair that the union would not let them drop their memberships. According to a complaint document filed in the district court, teacher Jeremy Durst and administrative assistant Deanne Tanner are listed as the plaintiffs along with a fourth-grade teacher from Portland Public Schools.

They say this infringes on their First Amendment right set forth by last years Supreme Court case known as Janus. That ruling ended a 40-year-old Supreme Court decision that required public employees to join the union that represents them.

In the complaint document, both Tanner and Durst signed a union form that confirmed their membership with OEA. However, it says both were not aware or made aware of the fine print on the document outlining that union members could only revoke their membership by written notice between September 1 and September 30.

According to Freedom Foundation, which represents the plaintiffs, Tanner and Durst wanted to leave the union sooner but were told they would have to wait till September as described in the fine print agreement. In that time, they have continued paying dues to OEA.

“They have that right. The Supreme Court has affirmed that right and now they’re being told, well you can exercise that right but only during one month of the year and the other eleven months of the year you can’t,” said Rebekah Millard, representative of Tanner and Durst. “They feel that that’s wrong.”

Freedom Foundation is a non-profit think tank that works against government unions and advocates for individual liberties, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.

The organization says both plaintiffs still work for the school district. The court document says money withheld from their paychecks amounts to $39.94 per month for Tanner and $81.09 per month for Durst. Millard says that this infringes on their First Amendment since this money being given is being used for political speech – speech that may not represent that individual’s rights or beliefs.

Oregon Education Association could not be reached at this time. Other defendants listed in the lawsuit include Eagle Point School District 9 and the labor organization, Southern Oregon Bargaining Council Eagle Point Education Certified and Classified Employees

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