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Janus Ruling Fallout: Washington state employees sue to 'escape' union

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Several Washington state employees are suing for the right to break ties with their union, claiming the Supreme Court’s landmark Janus decision should allow them to cancel their membership immediately. 

That June ruling said state government workers could not be forced to pay so-called “fair share” fees to support collective bargaining and other union activities. The decision delivered a blow to public-employee unions.

But the lawsuit filed Thursday, if successful, could point to further repercussions. 

The six plaintiffs have all attempted to leave the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) since the Supreme Court decision, but say they’ve been told they have to wait until an “escape period” next year. 

The government agency employees signed membership agreements – meaning they were part of a union as opposed to nonmembers forced to pay fees – but the lawsuit said the employees did so when “the right to not fund union advocacy was yet to be recognized.” Before the Supreme Court ruling, Washington was one state where certain public employees were required to pay agency fees.

“I just want what’s right and fair, and the way the union has treated me since the Janus decision is not right, nor fair.”

– Plaintiff Mike Stone

“Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay,” Justice Samuel Alito said in writing the majority opinion.

The Freedom Foundation, the conservative Washington-based think tank that filed the suit on behalf of the employees, argues union membership cards signed before that decision should now be invalidated because “it’s impossible for a worker to have knowingly waived a right that wasn’t recognized by the court until the Janus ruling was issued.” The workers argue they only joined because they presumed they’d have to pay fees anyway or were given bad information. 

SUPREME COURT DEALS BLOW TO UNIONS, RULES AGAINST FORCED FEES FOR GOVERNMENT WORKERS

The nonprofit also alleges that unions “pressured” employees to join or misled workers to believe membership was required as opposed to just paying the reduced fee.

“I just want what’s right and fair, and the way the union has treated me since the Janus decision is not right, nor fair,” plaintiff Mike Stone, who works in the state’s Department of Social and Health Services, told Fox News. “WFSE doesn’t share my views or my values. I don’t want my money being used to support an organization I disagree with.” 

The agreements only allow for a short window (between 10 and 20 days, according to the suit) for employees to resign from the union once a year. Otherwise, deductions will automatically renew annually. 

Another plaintiff, who wished only to be identified as Ms. Torres, said she was never told exactly what she was signing and didn’t realize she wasn’t going to be allowed to resign from the union at any time.

“The union organizer simply said if we were already a member we needed to sign their new form,” she told Fox News in a statement. “It’s totally unethical for the union to trick state workers to sign away their constitutional rights and then turn around and tell you that you cannot opt out because you signed a contract.”

FREEDOM FOUNDATION SUES SEATTLE OVER CONTROVERSIAL NEW INCOME TAX

“I had no knowledge that the form they provided was a contract. This is an outrage and disrespectful. I want my right to opt out.”

After the Janus decision, the Washington attorney general’s office said the Supreme Court’s ruling “does not impact any agreements between a union and its members to pay union dues, and existing membership cards or other agreements by union members to pay dues should continue to be honored.” It said the decision just prohibits employers from deducting agency fees from nonmembers without affirmative consent.

Washington has some of the highest union membership rates in the U.S., according to the Department of Labor.  

DESPITE SUPREME COURT DECISION, UNION WORKERS VOW TO PUSH FORWARD

“The state and the unions are determined to act as though the Janus ruling affects only those workers who successfully opt out,” James Abernathy, the Freedom Foundation’s senior litigation counsel, said in a statement. “But it goes a lot farther than that.”

“Janus puts the burden of proof on the union to prove a worker actually wants to be a dues-paying member,” he said. “It can’t simply assume they do until informed otherwise, nor can the workers be bullied into waiving rights they don’t realize they have.”

The class-action suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, seeks the restitution of dues since the Janus decision. Aside from WFSE, the lawsuit names Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and several of the state’s departments’ directors as defendants. 

Neither the governor’s office nor the state attorney general’s office responded to a request for comment from Fox News by Friday morning. 

The plaintiffs are employed at the state’s Department of Health, Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Transportation and Health Care Authority.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn.

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How Rod Rosenstein is connected to Trump, Russia investigation

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As the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election – and any involvement from the Trump campaign – forges ahead, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has found himself on the receiving end of some Republicans’ ire.

Two months after a handful of House Republicans filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, the official once again rocked the Trump administration.

A bombshell report published by The New York Times on Sept. 21 alleges Rosenstein suggested secretly recording President Trump to expose chaos in the White House and enlisting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him from office — accusations Rosenstein vehemently denied.

“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” he told Fox News. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

ROSENSTEIN REPORTEDLY DISCUSSED WEARING ‘WIRE,’ INVOKING 25TH AMENDMENT AGAINST TRUMP

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is spearheading the Russia probe, but Rosenstein, 53, still oversees the federal investigation as deputy attorney general.

In the articles of impeachment filed in July, the group of 11 House Republicans accused Rosenstein of intentionally withholding documents and information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“We’ve caught the Department of Justice hiding information, redacting information that they should not have redacted,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, previously told Fox News. Jordan, who was one of the lawmakers who introduced the articles, also claimed Rosenstein attempted to intimidate House staffers with subpoenas.

Read on for a look at how Rosenstein is connected to the Russia investigation.

What is Rosenstein’s job?

Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate as deputy attorney general in April 2017.

More on the Russia investigation:

As deputy attorney general, he is responsible for day-to-day operations of the Justice Department and oversees its agencies, including the FBI.

How is he involved in the Russia investigation?

Rosenstein appointed Mueller as the special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election in May 2017.

The appointment came after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the probe, and Rosenstein stepped in to oversee the investigation.

At the time, Rosenstein said his decision to appoint a special counsel was “not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.”

Under Justice Department regulations, Mueller must consult with Rosenstein when his investigators uncover new evidence that may fall outside his original mandate. Rosenstein then determines whether to allow Mueller to proceed or to assign the matter to another U.S. attorney or part of Justice.

According to a memo from Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, Rosenstein signed at least one FISA surveillance application that targeted Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser on Trump’s campaign.

Did he have something to do with Comey’s firing?

Democrats were critical of Rosenstein after the White House used a memo he’d crafted as a reason to fire FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Politico reported. Rosenstein reportedly drafted the memo after Trump had expressed his desire to fire Comey.

Rosenstein later told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that he stood by his memo. He said it was “not a finding of official misconduct” or “a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination.”

“Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader,” Rosenstein said.

What has the White House said about him?

As he has continued to deny any wrongdoing, Trump has been critical of the Russia investigation, particularly of Mueller’s handling of it.

In an April 11 tweet, Trump accused Mueller of being “conflicted” – and Rosenstein even more so.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Samuel Chamberlain, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn.

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Vegas odds revealed for 2020 presidential hopefuls — and long shots

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Vegas odds revealed for 2020 presidential hopefuls — and long shots

A Las Vegas oddsmaker has President Donald Trump favored to win the 2020 presidential election. Click to see the odds for a variety of candidates.

http://www.foxnews.com/”>Fox News

http://www.foxnews.com/

A Las Vegas betting group has President Donald Trump as the favorite to win the 2020 election, giving him 3 to 1 odds

(AP)

a-las-vegas-betting-group-has-president-donald-trump-as-the-favorite-to-win-the-2020-election,-giving-him-3-to-1-odds

Senator Kamala Harris, a California Democrat, is the leading rival but with 10 to 1 odds

(Kamala Harris Campaign)

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Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, fueled 2020 rumors but will face an uphill battle with 15 to 1 odds

(AP)

senator-elizabeth-warren,-a-massachusetts-democrat,-fueled-2020-rumors-but-will-face-an-uphill-battle-with-15-to-1-odds-

Oprah Winfrey shut down rumors about a potential run but her 30 to 1 odds favor her over House Speaker Paul Ryan

(Getty)

oprah-winfrey-shut-down-rumors-about-a-potential-run-but-her-30-to-1-odds-favor-her-over-house-speaker-paul-ryan

Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti was given 40 to 1 odds, making him more favored than Hillary Clinton

(AP)

stormy-daniels’-attorney-michael-avenatti-was-given-40-to-1-odds,-making-him-more-favored-than-hillary-clinton

Clinton was given 66 to 1 odds, placing her chances below Senator Bernie Sanders for 2020

(AP)

clinton-was-given-66-to-1-odds,-placing-her-chances-below-senator-bernie-sanders-for-2020

Kanye West recently tweeted out the message “2024” but he was given 150 to 1 odds for the next presidential election

(AP)

kanye-west-recently-tweeted-out-the-message-“2024”-but-he-was-given-150-to-1-odds-for-the-next-presidential-election-

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson dismissed rumors that he would run in 2020 but his 40 to 1 beat Clinton’s odds

(REUTERS)

dwayne-“the-rock”-johnson-dismissed-rumors-that-he-would-run-in-2020-but-his-40-to-1-beat-clinton’s-odds

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was given 50 to 1 odds despite Trump being the likely Republican candidate

(UN)

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was given 66 to 1 odds

(REUTERS)

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Congressional Leaks

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Congressional Leaks

Some of the most memorable congressional leaks over the years.

http://www.foxnews.com/”>Fox News

http://www.foxnews.com/

Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska taking oath in front of his family in Jan., 1969

Sen. Mike Gravel, D- Alaska, escaped punishment for disclosure of the Pentagon Papers in June 1971.

(Getty Images)

sen.-mike-gravel,-d-alaska-taking-oath-in-front-of-his-family-in-jan.,-1969

Central Intelligence Agency Director William E. Colby with Sen. James Abourzek and Rep. Michael J. Harrington

In 1975, the House ethics committee dismissed charges that Michael J. Harrington, D-Mass., revealed secret CIA activities in Chile.

(AP Photo/Henry Griffin)

central-intelligence-agency-director-william-e.-colby-with-sen.-james-abourzek-and-rep.-michael-j.-harrington

Senators Pat Leahy (right) and Dave Durenberger at press conference on select committee on intelligence report

In 1987, the Senate Ethics Committee declined to investigate Dave Durenberger, R-Minn., after reports that he leaked classified information about U.S. spy recruitment.

(Getty Images)

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Ranking Member George E. Brown,D-Calif

In 1987, George E. Brown, D-Calif., (1963-71, 1973-99) angrily quit the House Intelligence panel after coming under fire from the Reagan administration for publicly discussing military satellite capabilities. Brown charged that the criticism was unwarranted because he had been able to discuss the same subjects without controversy before his appointment to the Intelligence Committee.

(Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly)

ranking-member-george-e.-brown,d-calif

Robert G. Torricelli ,D-N.J., qustions Beth E. Dozoretz, Managing Trustee of the Democratic National Committee during campaign finance hearings

In 1995, Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J. (House, 1983-97; Senate, 1997-2003), nearly lost his seat on the House Intelligence Committee over allegations that he improperly released information about CIA operations in Guatemala.

Torricelli said the information he released came from sources outside the Intelligence Committee. He was eventually exonerated by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. A CIA investigation spurred by the revelations found serious wrongdoing by the agency.

(Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly)

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Republican presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz participate in the Fox News – Google GOP Debate

In 2015, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders said that they were not investigating whether Ted Cruz disclosed classified information during a Dec. 2015 GOP debate, despite the panel chairman’s comments, saying his staff was looking into the matter. During the Dec. 15 debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) seemed to imply that Cruz (R-Texas) disclosed classified information during a testy exchange on government surveillance powers and when Cruz was disputing Rubio’s attacks on the Texas senator’s national security credentials.

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

–republican-presidential-candidates-sen.-marco-rubio-and-sen.-ted-cruz-participate-in-the-fox-news—google-gop-debate-

Devin Nunes

In 2017, the House Ethics Committee closed an investigation into House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, clearing the California Republican of claims that he had made unauthorized disclosures of classified information. The investigation arose after Nunes told reporters at the White House that he had reviewed “intelligence reports” indicating that members of President Trump’s campaign had been swept up in foreign surveillance by U.S. spy agencies.

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

devin-nunes

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