RHODE ISLAND (October 11, 2018) – In response to reports
that the Rhode Island Attorney General and Ocean State union officials are
misinforming teachers and other public employees of their legal protections
under the Foundation-won Janus decision, National Right to Work Legal Defense
Foundation staff attorneys have issued a Special Legal Notice for all Rhode Island
teachers who wish to exercise their right to stop financially supporting a
The notice can be found here: Setting the
Record Straight on Teacher Rights in Rhode Island after Janus v. AFSCME
The notice comes after Rhode Island Attorney General
Peter Kilmartin – who signed onto an anti-Janus brief at the Supreme Court and
received major support from union officials in his runs for public office –
made the false claim
that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling “only affects non-union members” and does
not apply to union members.
The Attorney General is wrong. Under Janus all government
employees have the right to resign their union membership and immediately stop
any financial payments to union officials. Because the Supreme Court decision
made it clear that public workers must opt-in to any union payments and
explicitly waive their constitutional rights, union members cannot be
restricted if they seek to resign from the union and stop the payment of any
union dues or fees.
The Bristol-Warren Education Association (BWEA) and the
National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI) also issued a letter
blatantly misleading teachers about their Janus rights. The letter claims that
union nonmembers must pay a NEARI attorney to file a grievance against the
union. However, as the Foundation’s notice states, unions are legally obligated
to provide grievance service to both members and nonmembers as part of its
exclusive monopoly bargaining status.
The BWEA and NEARI union officials’ letter also incorrectly
claims that nonmembers are unable to request days from the Sick Leave Bank,
even though the BWEA’s monopoly bargaining agreement establishes the Sick Leave
Bank for all teachers, including nonmembers, covered by the agreement.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal
Defense Foundation, released the following statement regarding the notice:
“It’s shameful that the Attorney General of Rhode Island and
union officials in the state are attempting to mislead public employees about
their legal protections. Under Janus, any public sector employee can at any
time exercise the First Amendment right to stop paying union dues and fees to a
union they do not wish to support. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and
is simply a cynical union boss money grab.
“Union officials ought to focus on earning the trust and
support of the workers they claim to represent. Instead, they and their
political allies are attempting to wield their unique monopoly bargaining
privileges to discriminate against workers who seek to exercise their Janus
rights. Any Rhode Island public teacher or other public employee who has been
blocked from stopping union payments as is their right under Janus can turn to
the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for free legal assistance.”
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are
already representing workers in lawsuits across the country who have been
wrongly blocked from exercising their rights under Janus.
Because of the numerous requests from workers for
information about their rights under the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME
decision, the Foundation established MyJanusRights.org
to educate public employees about their protections under Janus.
The site also enables workers to request free legal
assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation if their rights are not
being respected by union officials.