Religious objection to union dues not limited to a few

An Ohio public employee collective-bargaining law exemption that allows workers to forgo paying union dues because of religious beliefs has been applied too narrowly, the U.S. District Court, Southern District, has decided.

A Roman Catholic woman, who objected to her union’s support of abortion rights, sued the Ohio State Employment Relations Board for access to the exemption, which the board denied.

The statute allows some workers to make charitable contributions in lieu of paying union dues. Until now, it has been limited to members of bona fide religious bodies that have historically objected to union membership, such as the Amish, Mennonites and Seventh-day Adventists.

The court found that this qualification discriminates against members of other religions, and said employees who practice other religions also may use the provision to steer their dues away from unions and toward charities.