Four Minnesota Government Employees File Lawsuits to Stop Illegal Government Union Dues Deductions


March 5, 2021


Bill Walsh (651) 373-1819

[email protected]

(Golden Valley, MN) Marcus Todd is a security counselor for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, working with the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. He was forced to join AFSCME in 2014 when he began working with DHS. He was never informed of his First Amendment right to not join the union and not pay dues. Even worse, in June 2018—the same month the Janus case which affirmed the constitutional right to not make any payment to a government union was decided—Mr. Todd alleges that AFSCME forged his signature on an AFSCME membership application and continued to deduct dues from his paycheck without his informed consent.  

Polly Burns, Rhonda Tomoson, and Diane Gooding are food service managers who work with school lunch workers who work to feed students in the Burnsville-Savage-Eagan public schools. All three have been forced to pay union dues to the SEIU for years, despite never being advised of their First Amendment rights to not join a union and not subsidize political activity with which they disagree.

Now, these four government employees have decided enough is enough. Represented by the Upper Midwest Law Center, they have filed two separate lawsuits in federal court—Todd v. AFSCME and Burns v. SEIU Local 284—to stop these illegal practices and obtain refunds of their dues.

Marcus Todd made this statement regarding this lawsuit: “I find it difficult to understand how AFSCME can continue to deduct dues from my paychecks, relying on a forged signature to do so, and still claim to “fight to promote freedom and opportunity for all working people.”  I have made multiple requests to AFSCME asking them to stop deducting money from my paychecks and have provided ample proof that the signature in question is a forgery, and in response they have told me that even if the signature is a forgery, they still have the right to take my money against my wishes.  I have a First Amendment right not to be forced into paying them union dues and they are choosing to ignore that right.  I look forward to the federal courts making sure they stop these unlawful payroll deductions for me and any of my fellow employees who find themselves in a similar situation.”

Polly Burns, Rhonda Tomoson, and Diane Gooding made a joint statement: “For years, we were forced to pay dues to SEIU Local 284 without anything to show for it. Being a member of the SEIU had no value to us. We had a First Amendment right to not join the SEIU and not pay for a worthless membership, and they never advised us of our rights. Since the SEIU trampled on our rights and kept us in the dark, we want our money back.”

Doug Seaton, Esq., President of the Upper Midwest Law Center, added: “It is time for the federal courts to step in and stop government unions’ abusive practices toward their employees. Without court intervention, these bad actors have mocked the Janus decision and shown contempt for employee rights. Enough is enough.”

The legal actions were filed in the federal District of Minnesota on March 5, 2021. The Todd case seeks money damages and an injunction stopping the government union’s practices. The Burns case seeks money damages for the SEIU’s past conduct. Click here to view the Todd complaint and related documents, and here to view the Burns, Tomoson, Gooding complaint. 

About the Upper Midwest Law Center

The Upper Midwest Law Center is a non-profit, public interest law firm with the mission to initiate pro-freedom litigation to protect against government overreach, special interest agendas and public union corruption and abuses. UMLC is a 501(c)(3) organization.

To learn more about the Upper Midwest Law Center, click here.


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