No. 20-cv-2682 TROESCH & NKEMDI vs. CTU & CPS - COMPLAINT (5/4/2020)

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The lawsuit names as defendants the CTU and American Federation of Teachers, for creating unconstitutional barriers to ending union payments, and the Chicago Board of Education, for continuing to deduct those funds from education workers on the unions’ behalf. It was filed May 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Ifeoma Nkemdi, who teaches at Newberry Math and Science Academy, and Joanne Troesch, a technology coordinator at Jones College Prep, are the two plaintiffs named in the filing.

Chicago Sun-Times article ....

TROESCH & NKEMDI vs. CTU & CPS

https://news.wttw.com/sites/default/files/article/file-attachments/gov.uscourts.ilnd_.375732.2.0.pdf

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

EASTERN DIVISION

JOANNE TROESCH and IFEOMA

NKEMDI, individually and on behalf of

themselves and the class they seek to

represent,

Plaintiffs,

v.

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION, Local

Union No. 1, American Federation of

Teachers; and the BOARD OF EDUCATION

OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, a unit of local

government of the State of Illinois;

Defendants.

No. 20-cv-2682

Judge

COMPLAINT

FOR INDIVIDUAL AND CLASS RELIEF

FOR VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS

Come now the Plaintiffs, JOANNE TROESCH and IFEOMA NKEMDI, individually

and on behalf of themselves and the class they seek to represent, and complain of the Defendants,

CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION, Local Union No. 1, American Federation of Teachers; and the

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, a unit of local government of the State

of Illinois; and of each of them, and say:

INTRODUCTION

1. On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court held it unconstitutional for the

government to deduct union dues or fees from public employees’ wages unless the

government can prove the employee waived his or her First Amendment right not to

subsidize the union’s speech. Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448, 2486

(2018). The Chicago Teachers Union and Board of Education of the City of Chicago are

violating the First Amendment by prohibiting employees from stopping the deduction

and collection of union dues or fees from their wages except during an August escape

period and by seizing union dues or fees from the wages of employees who do not

consent to subsidizing the union and its speech. Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and

a class of similarly situated employees, seek declaratory judgment, injunctive relief,

nominal damages, and compensatory damages for Defendants’ violation of employees’

First Amendment rights.

PARTIES

2. Plaintiffs Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi reside in Cook County, Illinois.

3. Defendant Chicago Teachers Union, Local Union No. 1, American Federation

of Teachers (“CTU”) is a labor union whose offices are located at 1901 West Carroll

Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60612.

4. Defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago (“Board”) is a municipal

corporation that can be sued in its own name. See 105 ILCS 5/34-2.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

5. This Court has jurisdiction over this case under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, because it

arises under the United States Constitution, and under 28 U.S.C. § 1343, because

Plaintiffs seek relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This Court has the authority under 28

U.S.C. §§ 2201 and 2202 to grant declaratory relief and other relief based thereon.

6. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because the Defendants’ offices are

located in this judicial district, the Plaintiffs reside in this judicial district, and the events

giving rise to the claims occurred within this judicial district.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

7. Section 11.1 of Illinois’ Educational Labor Relations Act (“IELRA”), 115 ILCS

5/11.1 (effective Dec. 20, 2019), governs union dues deductions made by the Board and

CTU.

8. Section 11.1(a) of the IELRA mandates that: “[e]mployers shall make payroll

deductions of employee organization dues, initiation fees, assessments, and other

payments for an employee organization that is the exclusive representative. Such

deductions shall be made in accordance with the terms of an employee’s written

authorization and shall be paid to the exclusive representative.” 115 ILCS 5/11.1(a).

Section 11.1(b) further requires that “[u]pon receiving written notice of the

authorization, the educational employer must commence dues deductions as soon as

practicable, but in no case later than 30 days after receiving notice from the employee

organization.” Id.; see also id. at 5/11.1(e).

9. Section 11.1 of the IELRA authorizes restrictions on employees revoking dues

deduction authorizations. Section 11.1(a) states that:

There is no impediment to an employee’s right to resign union membership

at any time. However, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary

regarding authorization and deduction of dues or other payments to a labor

organization, the exclusive representative and an educational employee may agree

to reasonable limits on the right of the employee to revoke such authorization,

including a period of irrevocability that exceeds one year. An authorization that is

irrevocable for one year, which may be automatically renewed for successive annual

periods in accordance with the terms of the authorization, and that contains at least

an annual 10-day period of time during which the educational employee may revoke

the authorization, shall be deemed reasonable.

Section 11.1(c)(1) further requires that educational employers, such as the Board,

enforce restrictions on revoking dues deductions by providing that “[d]eductions shall

remain in effect until: (1) the educational employer receives notice that an educational

employee has revoked his or her authorization in writing in accordance with the terms of the

authorization.”

10. The Board and CTU are parties to a collective bargaining agreement effective

from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2024 (“2019–24 CBA”). The Board and CTU were parties

to a prior collective bargaining agreement effective from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019

(“2015–19 CBA”). The 2019–24 CBA and 2015–19 CBA are collectively referred to as

the “CBAs.”

11. The CBAs govern or governed the employment terms of roughly 24,000

teachers and other school personnel employed by the Board each year. This includes

Plaintiffs Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi, whom the Board employs.

12. The CBAs contain identical “dues checkoff” clauses at Section 1-6 that state:

1-6. Dues Checkoff. The BOARD shall deduct from the pay of each bargaining unit

employee from whom it receives an authorization to do so the required amount of fees for

the payment of UNION dues. Such fees, accompanied by a list of persons from whom they

have been deducted and the amount deducted from each and by a list of persons who had

authorized deductions and from whom no deduction was made and the reason therefore,

shall be forwarded to the UNION office no later than ten work days after such deductions

were made. Such lists shall be organized by school or the applicable unit. Any bargaining

unit employee may terminate the dues check off during August by submitting written notice

to the BOARD and the UNION.

13. The 2015–19 CBA also contained a “fair share clause” at Section 1-8 that

mandated all nonmembers of CTU who were subject to the CBA “shall pay to the

UNION each month their fair share of the costs of the services rendered by the UNION

that are chargeable to non-members under state and federal law.” 2015–19 CBA, § 1-8.1.

The Board directly deducted these compulsory fees from the wages of nonmembers. Id.

§ 1-8.3. On information and belief, the Board and CTU stopped enforcing Section 1-8

against employees in July 2018.

14. In September 2017, Troesch and Nkemdi signed a form attached as Exhibit

A and incorporated here. The form separately authorizes (i) membership in CTU; (ii) for

the Board to deduct union dues from wages; and (iii) for the Board to deduct

contributions from CTU’s Political Action Committee from wages. Plaintiffs Troesch

and Nkemdi signed the membership and dues deduction portions of the form. See Ex. A.

15. On information and belief, the form(s) the Board and CTU currently use, and

have used during relevant times, to authorize Board deductions of union dues or fees

from employees in the proposed classes are identical or like the forms that Plaintiffs

signed.

16. The Board and CTU’s form does not restrict when signatories can resign their

membership in CTU or stop the Board from deducting contributions for CTU’s Political

Action Committee. The form does restrict when a signatory can stop dues deductions,

stating in pertinent part:

During my employment, I voluntarily authorize and direct my Employer to

deduct from my pay each pay period, regardless of whether I am or remain a member

of the Union, an amount equal to the dues and assessments certified by the Union,

and to remit such amount monthly to the Union. This authorization and direction

shall become revocable by providing written notice to the Union by the United Postal

Service postmarked between August 1 and August 31. I understand that signing this

card is not a condition of my employment.

17. This restriction will be called the “August escape period.”

18. The Board and CTU’s form does not notify potential signatories that they

have a constitutional right not to financially support the CTU or state that a signatory

agrees to waive his or her constitutional right.

19. Troesch and Nkemdi did not know they had a constitutional right not to

financially support the CTU until the fall of 2019, when they both conducted research

on how to continue working during a teachers’ strike, which occurred in October 2019.

20. On June 27, 2018, the Supreme Court in Janus held that public employees

have a right under the First Amendment not to subsidize a union and its speech. 138 S.

Ct. at 2468.

21. Troesch and Nkemdi sought to exercise their First Amendment rights under

Janus in October 2019 by sending letters to the Board and CTU that notify the

Defendants that they resign their membership in CTU and do not authorize the Board to

deduct union dues or fees from their wages. These letters are Exhibit B and incorporated

here.

22. The Board did not respond to Troesch’s and Nkemdi’s letters.

23. CTU responded by letter on November 15, 2019 to Troesch’s and Nkemdi’s

resignation and revocation letters respectively, which are Exhibit C and incorporated

herein. CTU implicitly acknowledged Troesch’s and Nkemdi’s resignations of

membership, but explained that the Board’s deduction of union dues from their wages

will continue until September 1, 2020 pursuant to the August escape period restriction.

See Ex. C.

24. In letters dated March 9, 2020, CTU notified Troesch and Nkemdi that they

could not rejoin the union unless they pay a fine to CTU for allegedly violating CTU’s

internal strike policy and that “[i]n accordance with the membership application form

which you signed, your dues authorization will be revoked during the next drop period

which is in August 2020.” These letters are attached as Exhibit D and incorporated

herein.

25. Since early November 2019 and continuing to date, the Board has deducted

and CTU has collected union dues or fees from Troesch and Nkemdi’s wages over their

objections and in violation of their First Amendment right to refrain from subsidizing

CTU and its speech. On information and belief, these nonconsensual deductions will

continue until September 2020.

CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS

26. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate by reference the paragraphs set forth

above.

27. Plaintiffs bring this case on their own behalf and on behalf of others similarly

situated, and ask this Court to certify two classes: First, Plaintiffs seek the certification,

under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(1)(A), (b)(1)(B), and (b)(2), of a “Class”

of all employees who are or were subject to Defendants’ August escape period. Second,

Plaintiffs seek the certification, under Rules 23(b)(2) and (b)(3), of a “Revocation Class”

that consists of all employees from whom, at any time after June 27, 2018, Defendants

deducted or collected union dues or fees after receiving notification from the individual

that he or she did not consent to paying union dues or fees.

28. On information and belief, the vast majority of the roughly 24,000

employees who are annually subject to the Board and CTU’s collective bargaining

agreement also are subject to the Defendants’ August escape period restriction on

exercising their First Amendment rights. The number of Class members makes joinder

of the individual Class members impractical.

29. On information and belief, Defendants deducted or collected union dues or

fees, and will continue to deduct and collect union dues or fees, from employees who

provide notification that they do not consent to paying union dues or fees outside of the

August escape period, rendering joinder of individual Revocation Class members

impractical.

30. There are questions of fact and law common to all Class and Revocation

Class members. Factually, all are subject to the August escape period. The dispositive

question of law for Count I is the same for Plaintiffs, Class, and Revocation Class

members: is the Defendants’ August escape period restriction facially constitutional

under the First Amendment?

31. There are other questions of fact and law common to all Revocation Class

members. Factually, all had union dues seized from their wages by the Defendants after

they provided notice that they did not consent to paying union dues or fees. The

dispositive question of law for Count II is the same for Plaintiffs and Revocation Class

members: do or did these nonconsensual dues seizures violate their rights under the First

Amendment?

32. Plaintiffs’ claims are typical of Class members’ and Revocation Class

members’ claims under Count I because all concern whether the Defendants’ August

escape period restriction facially violate their First Amendment rights. Plaintiffs’ claims

are typical of Revocation Class members’ claims under Count II because all concern

whether the Defendants’ seizure of union dues or fees from their wages after they

provided notice of their objection violates or violated their First Amendment rights.

33. Plaintiffs will adequately represent the interests of the proposed classes, and

have no interests antagonistic to the class.

34. A class action by Class members can be maintained under Rule 23(b)(1)(A)

because separate actions by Class members concerning the constitutionality of

Defendants’ August escape period could risk inconsistent adjudications that would

establish incompatible standards of conduct for Defendants.

35. A class action by Class members can be maintained under Rule 23(b)(1)(B)

because an adjudication determining the constitutionality of Defendants’ August escape

period will as a practical matter, resolve the interests of all Class members or

substantially impair or impede their ability to exercise their First Amendment rights.

36. A class action by Class members and Revocation Class members can be

maintained under Rule 23(b)(2) because Defendants, by maintaining and enforcing their

August escape period restriction on employees’ exercise of their First Amendment rights,

have acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to members of the Class and

Revocation Class, so that final injunctive or declaratory relief is appropriate for the Class

and Revocation Class as a whole.

37. A class action by Revocation Class members can be maintained under Rule

23(b)(2) because Defendants, by deducting and collecting union dues or fees from

Revocation Class members’ wages without their consent, have acted or refused to act on

grounds that apply generally to members of the Revocation Class, so that final injunctive

or declaratory relief is appropriate for the Revocation Class as a whole.

38. A class action by Revocation Class members can be maintained under Rule

23(b)(3) because the common questions of law and fact identified in the complaint

predominate over any questions affecting only individual Revocation Class members.

A class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient

adjudication of the controversy because, among other things, all Revocation Class

members are subjected to the same violation of their constitutional rights—but the

amount of money involved in each individual’s claim would make it burdensome for

class members to maintain separate actions. The amount of the unauthorized deductions

taken from Plaintiffs and class members is known to the defendant.

CAUSES OF ACTION

39. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate by reference the paragraphs set forth

above.

40. Defendants act jointly and under color of state law, including Section 11.1 of the

IELRA, by maintaining and enforcing Section 1-6 of the CBAs, by maintaining and

enforcing their August escape period, and by deducting and collecting union dues from

employees’ wages.

41. The Board’s dues deduction policy, which includes the August escape

period, is both: (a) an express policy of the Board under Section 1-6 of the CBAs and the

Board’s and CTU’s dues deduction form(s); and (b) a well-settled and permanent

practice or custom for the same reasons and because the Board systematically enforces

its dues deduction policy with respect to roughly 24,000 employees annually. The

Board’s dues deduction policy, which includes the August escape period, also is

enforced by persons with final policymaking authority—the President of the Board, who

executed the CBAs, and by persons at the Board who control payroll deduction policies.

42. In Janus, the Supreme Court held it violates the First Amendment for the

government to deduct payments for a union from employees’ wages without their

consent. 138 S. Ct. at 2486. The Court also held that, to be effective, an individual’s

consent to pay union dues must meet the criteria for a waiver of First Amendment rights.

Id.

43. A valid waiver of First Amendment rights requires clear and compelling

evidence that the putative waiver was voluntary, knowing, and intelligent and that

enforcement of the waiver is not against public policy. Defendants bear the burden of

proving that these criteria are satisfied.

44. Defendants cannot prove that Plaintiffs, Class, nor Revocation Class members

voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived their First Amendment rights not to

subsidize CTU’s speech because, among other reasons, Defendants’ dues deduction

form(s) do not: (i) notify employees that they have a First Amendment right not to

financially support CTU and its speech or (ii) state that the signatory employee is

agreeing to waive that right.

45. Defendants’ maintenance and enforcement of their August escape period is

against public policy because it significantly abridges employees’ First Amendment

rights by compelling employees who do not want to subsidize CTU and its speech to

subsidize CTU and its speech as a condition of their employment for up to a year. No

countervailing public interest justifies this significant abridgment of employees’ First

Amendment rights.

Count I

(The August Escape Period Violates the First Amendment)

46. Defendants’ August escape period compels employees who do not want to

subsidize CTU and its speech to subsidize CTU and its speech as a condition of their

employment unless they provide a notice of objection in August and until September 1st

of each year.

47. Defendants’ maintenance and enforcement of their August escape period

restricts Plaintiffs, Class members, and Revocation Class members of their First

Amendment rights to stop subsidizing CTU and its speech, and thus deprives them of

their First Amendment right to free speech and association, as secured against state

infringement by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and 42

U.S.C. § 1983.

48. Plaintiffs, Class Members, and Revocation Class Members are suffering the

irreparable harm and injury inherent in a violation of their First Amendment rights, for

which there is no adequate remedy at law.

Count II

(Nonconsensual Dues Deductions Violate the First Amendment)

49. Defendants, by deducting and collecting union dues or fees from Plaintiffs

and Revocation Class over their objections, are depriving Plaintiffs and Revocation Class

members of their First Amendment rights to free speech and association, as secured

against state infringement by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States

Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

50. Plaintiffs and Revocation Class Members are suffering the irreparable harm

and injury inherent in a violation of their First Amendment rights, for which there is no

adequate remedy at law.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

For these reasons, Plaintiffs request that this Court:

A. Issue a declaratory judgment that Defendants violate the First Amendment, as

secured against state infringement by the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by: (1)

maintaining and enforcing their August escape period restriction against Plaintiffs, Class

Members, and Revocation Class Members; and (2) enforcing Section 1-6 of the 2019–24 CBA

or otherwise deducting union dues or fees from Plaintiffs and Revocation Class members

without clear and compelling evidence that they waived their First Amendment right to refrain

from subsidizing CTU and its speech.

B. Issue a declaratory judgment that Section 11.1 of the IELRA, 115 ILCS 5/11, is

unconstitutional under the First Amendment, as secured against state infringement by the

Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, to the extent it authorizes: (1) restrictions on

employees’ exercise of their First Amendment rights to stop subsidizing a union and its speech

that are identical, similar, or more restrictive than Defendants’ August escape period restriction,

and (2) the deduction of union dues or fees from employees’ wages without clear and

compelling evidence that they knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived their First

Amendment rights.

C. Permanently enjoin Defendants, along with affiliates, agents, and any other person

or entity in active concert or participation with them, from engaging in the conduct that Plaintiffs

request this Court declare unconstitutional.

D. Award equitable relief that requires the Defendants to provide Plaintiffs, Class

members, and Revocation Class members with written notice that the August escape period

restriction is unconstitutional and unenforceable, that they have the right to stop the deduction

and collection of union dues or fees from them at any time, and an opportunity to retroactively

exercise that right;

E. Award compensatory damages to Plaintiffs and Revocation Class Members, or

alternatively nominal damages;

G. Award Plaintiffs their costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees under the Civil Rights

Attorneys’ Fees Award Act of 1976, 42 U.S.C. § 1988; and

H. Grant other and additional relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

Dated: May 4, 2020.

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ JOSEPH A. MORRIS

______________________________

JOSEPH A. MORRIS

One of Counsel for Plaintiffs

JOSEPH A. MORRIS

MORRIS & DE LA ROSA

6171 North Sheridan Road

Suite 312

Chicago, Illinois 60660

Telephone: (312) 927-4680

E-Mail: MDLRusuk@aol.com

Illinois Attorney No. 1963475

WILLIAM L. MESSENGER

FRANK D. GARRISON

(Admission to practice to be filed)

NATIONAL RIGHT TO WORK

LEGAL DEFENSE FOUNDATION

8001 Braddock Road

Suite 600

Springfield, Virginia 22160

Telephone: (703) 321-8510

E-Mail: wlm@nrtw.org

fdg@nrtw.org

Counsel for Plaintiffs

-14-

Case: 1:20-cv-02682 Document #: 2 Filed: 05/04/20 Page 14 of 14 PageID #:16



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