JCPS clerical workers file second lawsuit challenging union representation
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Eleven clerical employees of Jefferson County Public Schools have filed a federal lawsuit arguing the school district violates their constitutional rights by deducting union fees from their paychecks.
The lawsuit is similar to a 2013 state court case filed by some of the same JCPS workers and attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The workers have been unsuccessful so far in the state case but are hoping the Kentucky Supreme Court will hear their appeal.
In the federal case, filed Sept. 23 in U.S. District Court in Louisville, the employees challenge the mandatory “fair share” payments deducted from their checks to cover their share of the cost of representation in collective bargaining contracts negotiated by the American Council of State, Federal and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 962 and Local 4011.
The union contract obligates JCPS to deduct the payments from all employees covered by agreement, even those who do not join the union.
Will Collins, a spokesman for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund, acknowledged that the federal lawsuit is “related” to the so-far-unsuccessful case filed by the workers in state court, but he said the two cases make distinct legal arguments.
In the state case, the workers argue that Kentucky law doesn’t give the union authority to bargain on behalf of all employees – even those who don’t want representation – in a public-sector workplace, he said.
On June 5, the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision in favor of the union and JCPS. The employees have asked the state Supreme Court to take the case.
The suits involve clerical employees like secretaries, librarians and bookkeepers who are classified as “Job Family 1A” in JCPS. They are not teachers.
A JCPS spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A call to AFSCME Local 4011’s local office was not immediately returned.
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