The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled today in a 5-4 decision that “agency fees” for public sector unions are unconstitutional. These are fees deducted from the wages of public sector employees who do not join a union but whose jobs are included in units represented by the union. They are often called “fair share” dues because these employees benefit from the contracts negotiated by the union even though they do not join the union. In reaching this decision, the Supreme Court reversed one of its prior decisions that specifically upheld such fees 41 years ago.
This decision is highly political and has little to do with actual Constitutional principles. A similar case was brought two years ago and ended in a deadlocked court after Justice Scalia died. Then the Republicans in Congress refused to fulfill their clear Constitutional duty and even consider the President’s Supreme Court nominee for more than a year. Had that justice been seated, the outcome of this case would no doubt be the opposite conclusion and agency fees would continue to be permitted. Instead, the current President nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge with a proven track record hostile to workers and their rights. The result is a clearly political decision that is nothing more than an assault on public sector employees.
The Supreme Court’s decision today means that dues can only be deducted from the wages of public sector employees who have authorized such deductions. This means that unions will need to convince employees to join and voluntarily support them instead of relying on automatic deductions.
Here at Minnillo & Jenkins, we represent several public sector unions, including the Cincinnati Organized and Dedicated Employees (CODE). CODE represents nearly 1,000 Cincinnati professional employees such as engineers, architects, IT professionals, and pharmacists. Unlike most other public sector unions, CODE is not affiliated with a national or statewide organization and does not support a bloated bureaucracy or any political parties. As a result, its dues are much lower than other unions, and it is 100% locally controlled by the representatives elected by the membership.
The City of Cincinnati provides a good example of the contrast between different unions. The dues paid by Cincinnati employees who are members of AFSCME (one of the defendants in the Janus case) are approximately double the dues paid by CODE members despite the fact that, on average, CODE members earn much more than AFSCME members. This means that Unions like CODE represent a strong value proposition for their members and are in a good position to make the case for continued support.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a challenge for large organizations like AFSCME and national teachers unions. Indeed, these organizations were the targets of the politically motivated litigation that led to today’s decision, which proponents hope will cut off or reduce the political money available to such groups. In contrast, organizations like CODE are smaller, local, directly accountable and highly responsive to individual members. We expect CODE and organizations like it to thrive and even grow as they respond to today’s decision by going directly to their members and making a strong case for continued support.
Content written by attorney Christian A. Jenkins
Have you ever spent an hour working your way through your cell phone company’s customer service call center to try to reverse a bogus $5 charge and then wondered whether it was worth it? Of course it’s not worth it, that’s why companies make so many bogus charges – because they know lots of people won’t notice or won’t have the wherewithal to challenge the charge. And to make doubly sure they get to keep their ill-gotten gains, most consumer companies require us all to “agree” to arbitrate any claims we have individually, meaning we can’t join together with other consumers and bring a class action. This tactic virtually ensures that the company will come out ahead in the long run giving it every incentive to routinely cheat us all out of small amounts.
One public official is trying to fight back against this onerous practice. Richard Cordray is the former Ohio Attorney General and now the head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (an office the President and Republicans are trying to abolish). Mr. Cordray is pressing forward with rules to eliminate forced arbitration and class action waivers in the financial industry, and he is out with an op ed in today’s New York Times that makes a compelling case for his position (Read about it here). It is well worth your time and attention.
This issue may not be a hot button political issue, but it really affects us all where it really matters most – in our wallets!
Minnillo & Jenkins Co., LPA filed a federal lawsuit against Silv Communications, Inc., on behalf of a local business and all others affected by the alleged scam. The complaint (read it here) alleges that Silv Communications calls consumers under false pretenses claiming to confirm “directory” information. According to the complaint, Silv records the call and then edits it electronically to create a phony recording that it uses as “consent” to switch the victim’s long distance provider so it can collect additional fees from the consumer. The complaint cites dozens of similar reports about Silv Communications to the Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Attorney General.
Silv Communications’ lawyers filed a motion to dismiss claiming, among other things, that there is no private right of action under the federal Telecommunications Act and that such claims cannot be brought as class actions. On December 5, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio rejected all of Silv Communications’ arguments (read it here) allowing the case to proceed. Minnillo & Jenkins will vigorously pursue this case on behalf of all affected individuals and businesses. If you have been subjected to Silv’s alleged scam or others like it, please contact us to discuss your potential claims.
Minnillo & Jenkins is proud to have sponsored Branford Marsalis appearance with The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for the “One City One Symphony” project over Thanksgiving weekend. The terrific concert was enjoyed by many members of our staff and their families, and we even got to meet Branford Marsalis afterwards! Great thanks to Mr. Marsalis and the Symphony for a wonderful event.
You may have heard about how Volkswagen and its subsidiaries used a “defeat device” to falsify emissions tests from so called “clean diesel” vehicles. Now it appears that Audi, a Volkswagen subsidiary, has used a different device to manipulate emissions and mileage test results for some of its larger non-diesel models such as the A6, A8 and Q5. On November 8, 2016, Minnillo & Jenkins, together with partner firms Goldenberg Schneider and Hagens Berman filed what is believed to be the first national class action against Audi based on this recent discovery.
According to recently published reports, the affected Audi vehicles, manufactured as late as May 2016, are equipped with special software that detects when the vehicle is being tested based on steering wheel movement. The reports indicate that the software controls the vehicles’ transmissions while they are being tested to keep the vehicle in a higher gear, thereby reducing engine RPM’s, reducing emissions and increasing efficiency during testing. Because the device only operates during testing, the test results do not reflect the vehicles’ actual emissions or efficiency during regular driving. As a result, according to the reports, the advertised emissions figures and efficiency ratings of the affected Audi vehicles are inaccurate.
Written content provided by Christian A. Jenkins
CINCINNATI, Ohio, October 5, 2016 – Cincinnati’s Freestore Foodbank just received a donation of $12,266.59. The donation results from unclaimed settlement funds in a lawsuit brought by two Cincinnati law firms against small loan lender Eagle Loan Company of Ohio, Inc. The lawsuit alleged that Eagle Loan Company of Ohio, Inc. charged borrowers interest over the rate allowed by Ohio law, and was brought by Minnillo & Jenkins Co., LPA and Goldenberg Schneider, LPA. The settlement totaled $500,000.00 and resulted in interest refunds to thousands of Ohio borrowers. The firms are pleased with the outcome in this case and happy to be able to support the work of the Freestore Foodbank as it prepares for a busy holiday season.
Minnillo & Jenkins is headquartered in Cincinnati’s historic Hyde Park neighborhood and maintains offices in Fairfield, Eastgate and Covington. The firm serves the needs of greater Cincinnati in a wide variety of practice areas, including labor and employment, consumer law, small business, domestic relations/divorce, bankruptcy and criminal defense/DUI. More information about the firm can be found at www.minnillojenkins.com.
Goldenberg Schneider is a Cincinnati law firm whose litigation group prosecutes actions on behalf of individuals and companies in civil litigation, including complex class actions, in a wide range of legal fields. More information about the firm can be found at www.gs-legal.com.
Electronic notification directly to debtors in bankruptcy