Brainerd City Clerk First in the Nation to Successfully Challenge “Window Period” and Leave Public Union

BRAINERD, MN—A clerk for the Brainerd Police Department who filed a federal lawsuit against IBEW Local 31 has become the first public employee in the nation to successfully challenge her public employee union’s “window period” designed to prevent her from immediately invoking her constitutional right not to pay fees and leave the union.

“This is exciting news for public employees all over the State of Minnesota and a warning to public employers,” said Kim Crockett, Vice President and General Counsel at Center of the American Experiment. “Public employers are not telling employees they have the right to keep their jobs without funding the political agenda of their workplace union. Employers are also not getting the affirmative, written consent of employees before deducting union dues in defiance of the law.”

In the settlement of the National Right to Work Foundation lawsuit announced today, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 31 agreed to refund dues plaintiff Sandra Anderson has been forced to pay since informing the city and IBEW that she wanted to leave the public employee union.

The U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus case last year ruled that public employee unions cannot require government workers to financially support the union as a condition of employment.

When Anderson asked the City of Brainerd and IBEW to stop deducting dues from her paycheck, union representatives claimed she could only opt out during a ten day “window period” preceding the anniversary of the union contract or her date of employment. Under the settlement, Anderson will be able to rescind her union membership immediately.

“Ms. Anderson is the first of thousands of government employees to successfully challenge union boss ‘window period’ schemes designed to limit workers from exercising their First Amendment rights under Janus,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix in a news release. “This victory serves as an inspiration for civil servants across the country who are stepping up to challenge union bosses’ coercive tactics to limit public employees’ constitutional rights.”

Center of the American Experiment has been working to inform Minnesota public employees of their constitutional right to opt out of union membership at will. The Center will focus in 2019 on educating the public sector about “Janus Rights” that require employers to get the affirmative consent of employees before deducting union dues and allow employees like Sandra Anderson to resign from their union without restriction.

Anderson’s victory in the settlement with IBEW sets an important precedent, paving the way for other government workers to pursue their constitutional rights to opt out of their public employee union.

Center of the American Experiment is looking for teachers and other public employees like Sandra Anderson to challenge union card restrictions across the state. Please contact Kim Crockett if you are a public employee and interested in bringing a challenge, or just need help with your union ( or 612-584-4563).