Ohio public-sector worker appeals decision denying a refund for previously paid union fees

On July 25, Nathaniel Ogle, an Ohio public-sector worker who is seeking a refund of previously paid union fees, appealed his case to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit after a U.S. District Court ruled against him.

  • Who are the parties to the suit? Ogle is the plaintiff. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF) represents him in the case. The defendant is the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association represents approximately 30,000 state and local government employees.
  • What is at issue? Ogle’s attorneys, citing Janus, argue union fees previously deducted from his and other employees’ paychecks should be refunded. Janus established that compelling public-sector workers to pay union dues and/or fees violates their free-speech and associational rights under the United States Constitution.
  • How did the lower court rule? On July 17, U.S. District Court Judge George Smith ruled the union had acted in good faith when it collected fees from Ogle and other employees because, before Janus, judicial precedent had upheld the legality of compulsory fees. Smith wrote, “Because OCSEA collected fees under a presumptively valid statute and pursuant to then-valid Supreme Court precedent, there is no way that OCSEA ‘knew or should have known that the statute upon which they relied was unconstitutional.’ Put another way — OCSEA was simply following presumptively valid law.” Smith was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan (R).
  • What are the responses?
    • Mark Mix, NRTWLDF president, said, “In this case and others being litigated with Foundation legal aid, workers seek the return of just a few years’ worth of unconstitutionally seized forced union fees as the statutes of limitations permit, which represents just a fraction of the fees union bosses have illegally collected from workers for decades.”
    • In response to a request for comment by The Center Square, Sally Meckling, communications director for OCSEA, said she could not comment on ongoing litigation.
  • The case name and number are Ogle v. Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, AFSCME, Local 11 (2:18-cv-01227).

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 101 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

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Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

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Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions on relevant bills since the beginning of the year. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state and then by bill number.

  • Massachusetts H3854: This bill would authorize employers to disclose personal employee information to unions. It would also permit unions to require non-members to pay for the costs associated with grievance and arbitration proceedings. It would require employers to provide unions with access to employees, and it would allow for dues deduction authorizations to be irrevocable for a period of up to one year.
    • House and Senate rejected governor’s proposed amendments. Returned to governor July 31.