In December 2018, the Liberty Justice Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of Illinois school district employee Erich Mandel against his government union, SEIU Local 73 and his employer, Community Consolidated School District 15, for violating his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association.

Despite the decisive victory for workers’ rights in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Erich Mandel was blocked from exercising his right to resign membership from, and stop paying dues to, Service Employees International Union, Local 73 (SEIU).

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it is illegal to require government workers to pay dues or fees to a government union as a condition of employment. The Court also required that government employers obtain clear consent from an employee in order to collect any union dues or fees from that employee, specifying that consent cannot be assumed; it must be voluntary, knowing, and shown by clear and compelling evidence.

A diesel mechanic in the transportation department of Community Consolidated School District 15 in Palatine, Illinois, Erich Mandel first requested in August 2018 that his employer stop withholding union dues and submitted hi resignation from the SEIU. The union asserted that Mandel must wait until an arbitrary time period to resign his membership and stop dues collection.

District 15 and SEIU violated Mandel’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association by refusing to allow him to withdraw his union membership and by continuing to charge him union dues based solely on a union card that he allegedly signed before the Janus decision. That union card is now unenforceable.