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Union agrees to stop taking dues from school employee, repay money

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(The Center Square) – An Ohio union facing a federal lawsuit agreed to stop withholding union dues from a school district employee’s paycheck, the Liberty Justice Center announced Wednesday afternoon.

The center filed a lawsuit Feb. 20 against the Ohio Association of Public School Employees on behalf of Denise Cogar, a Perry Local School District employee who quit the union after 20 years in 2022.

Four months after her union resignation, the union said it had made a mistake and started withholding dues again.

“Taking money from my paycheck – when I wasn’t a union member and hadn’t paid dues for four months – was unfair and unconstitutional,” Cogar said. “But because the Liberty Justice Center stepped in to defend me, I got back my money and my rights.”

After the lawsuit was filed, the school union agreed to stop withholding dues from Cogar’s paycheck and to refund the dues taken after the union accepted her resignation.

“It shouldn’t have taken a federal lawsuit, but we are pleased that the union has chosen to respect Denise’s First Amendment rights,” said Jeffrey Schwab, senior counsel at the Liberty Justice Center.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the lawsuit said the dues withdrawal started again four months after Cogar’s resignation when the union said she missed its once-yearly opt-out window.

Cogar waited for the following year’s window and mailed another request to stop paying dues. The union rejected that request, saying it received her request one day before the window opened.

The lawsuit says the union waited until a day after the window closed before telling her she missed the window again.

It said that because the union confirmed that she was a nonmember and informed the school district to stop withholding dues from her paychecks, the union was legally obligated to get her consent before withholding dues again.

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