Forced Dues 

Supreme Court Argument Preview: What's at Stake in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a potentially landmark lawsuit brought by 10 California public school teachers. The case, which builds on recent Foundation Supreme Court victories in Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014), could put an end to forced union dues in the public sector.

Below, we've put together a list of helpful links to explain the issues at stake, as the well as the implications of a favorable Friedrichs decision for civil servants across the country. 

Last September, National Right to Work President Mark Mix published an op-ed in The Washington Times explaining why the High Court should take this opportunity to outlaw mandatory union dues for government employees. Key quote:

Friedrichs gives the court an opportunity to outlaw all mandatory union dues in the public sector. To be clear, such a ruling wouldn’t end government unions. Employees who genuinely support a labor organization would still be free to join up and pay dues. What it would do, however, is limit government unions’ outsized political influence.

Without a guaranteed stream of income from nonunion employees, union officials wouldn’t have nearly as much money to spend on friendly politicians. Moreover, unions that actually have to persuade employees to join and voluntarily contribute tend to be more focused on their members and less fixated on partisan politics.

Outlawing mandatory union dues or fees in the public sector would also limit the ability of union officials to handpick their negotiating partners in state and local government. Politicians who aren’t beholden to union special interests are more likely to strike better bargains for their constituents.

Ideally, no employee — public or private — would ever be forced to pay union dues to get or keep a job. In Friedrichs, the Supreme Court has a chance to restore the workplace rights of America’s civil servants and end the corrupting influence of public-sector forced dues on our political system.

Veteran National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney Bill Messenger also contributed to SCOTUSBlog's Friedrichs symposium, which offers a more in-depth look at the legal issues surrounding the case. Messenger was the lead attorney for the Foundation's Harris Supreme Court victory, which helped lay the groundwork for many of the arguments presented in  Friedrichs. Key quote:

Friedrichs likely represents the terminus of this line of reasoning. By design, the case squarely presents the question wrongly decided in Abood:  whether public school teachers can be forced to support union bargaining with a school district. Harris suggests that the Court will be receptive to the Friedrichs petitioners’ arguments that there is no relevant difference under the First Amendment between bargaining with government and lobbying government, in that both are petitioning government over matters of political and public concern, and that Abood should be overruled on these grounds.

. . . 

Leaving aside the positive impact on public policy of reducing the unique power and financial resources of public-sector unions, the Friedrichs decision will have profound implications for the First Amendment rights of millions of workers. An estimated five million public-sector employees are currently subject to forced-fee requirements and must pay tribute to a union as a condition of their employment. Even under the existing precedents, this is, as the Court has recognized repeatedly, a “significant impingement” on the First Amendment rights of each and every individual worker who would not voluntarily support the union which government forces them to subsidize. Overruling Abood will end the most widespread abuse of First Amendment rights in the nation, while failing to do so will perpetuate it.

For more information on the Friedrichs case, you can also check out the National Right to Work Foundation's brief in support of the plaintiffs and SCOTUSBlog's compendium of every brief submitted in the case. 

Fort Leonard Wood Food Service Employees Win Refunds in Federal Settlement over Illegal Union Dues Seizures

News Release

Fort Leonard Wood Food Service Employees Win Refunds in Federal Settlement over Illegal Union Dues Seizures

Company and union officials obstructed workers from exercising rights to refrain from union membership and dues payments

Fort Leonard Wood, MO (April 14, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, two Fort Leonard Wood food service workers have won a federal settlement from a local union for violating their and several of their coworkers' rights.

In November 2014, Kimsha Rosensteel, an 11-year employee with the Overland Park, Kansas-based food services provider EDP Enterprises, Inc., and coworker Stephanie Fenton filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local R14-139 union. Rosensteel later filed a charge against the company.

Click here to read the full release.

Washington Family Child Care Providers File Federal Class-Action Lawsuit Challenging Forced Unionization

News Release

Washington Family Child Care Providers File Federal Class-Action Lawsuit Challenging Forced Unionization

Home-based child care providers forced into SEIU ranks against their will

Olympia, WA (March 5, 2015) – Today, a group of family child care providers filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging a 2006 law that authorizes the forcible unionization of Washington State's 12,000 home-based child care providers.

With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys in conjunction with the Freedom Foundation, Cindy Mentele and three other providers from around the state filed the suit against Governor Jay Inslee and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 925. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The child care providers' lawsuit challenges the forced-unionism scheme on the grounds that it violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of free political expression and association. National Right to Work Foundation attorneys argue that such schemes violate providers' First Amendment right to choose with whom they associate to petition the government because the government does not have the constitutional authority to force citizens to accept its handpicked political representative to lobby itself.

Click here to read the full release.

Worker Advocate Urges Supreme Court to Take Case to Overturn Government Union Bosses Forced Dues Powers

News Release

Worker Advocate Urges Supreme Court to Take Case to Overturn Government Union Bosses Forced Dues Powers

Case builds on Foundation-won Supreme Court precedents

Washington, DC (March 2, 2015) – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have filed a "friend of the Court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging it to hear a challenge to public-sector union officials' power to force America's civil servants into dues-paying ranks. Foundation attorneys filed the brief late Friday in support of the challenge, titled Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, brought by ten California teachers supported by the Center for Individual Rights.

Nearly 40 years ago, the Court ruled in the Foundation's Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case that public-sector workers can be compelled to pay union fees as a condition of employment, but have a constitutional right to refrain from the part used for union political and members-only activities. Since then, National Right to Work Foundation-assisted workers have repeatedly challenged government union officials' power to force public employees into union fee payments as a job condition.

Click here to read the full release.

Teenage Grocery Clerk Wins Federal Case Against Grocery Union Officials Who Violated His Rights

News Release

Teenage Grocery Clerk Wins Federal Case Against Grocery Union Officials Who Violated His Rights

Union officials illegally threatened to have him fired for not joining and paying full dues

San Diego, CA (February 24, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a teenage part-time Ralphs Grocery clerk has won a federal ruling against a local grocery union for violating his workplace rights.

The teenager filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135 union after union officials provided him in July 2013, with a membership packet that illegally stated that new hires must join the union and pay full union dues as a condition of their employment.

The teenager eventually learned about his right to refrain from full dues paying union membership and made multiple inquiries about resigning his union membership and paying reduced dues with UFCW Local 135 officials. His multiple requests were denied, stonewalled, or ignored.

Click here to read the full release.

Federal Settlement Awards Johnson Controls Worker Six Months of Illegally-Seized Union Confiscations

News Release

Federal Settlement Awards Johnson Controls Worker Six Months of Illegally-Seized Union Confiscations

Case underscores needs for Right to Work protections

Sycamore, IL (February 6, 2015) – A local Johnson Controls, Inc. worker has won a federal settlement from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union hierarchy and the company for violating his right to refrain from paying union dues and fees used for union officials' politics.

The settlement comes in the wake of federal charges Johnson Controls employee Thomas Hayden filed with legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Hayden, who has exercised his right under federal labor law to refrain from formal union membership, must accept the exclusive representation of UAW, and its Local 1268, union officials. Because Illinois does not have Right to Work protections for workers, nonmember workers like Hayden can be forced to pay a part of union dues and fees.

Click here to read the full release.

SEIU Faces Federal Prosecution for Violating Local Security Guards' Rights

News Release

SEIU Faces Federal Prosecution for Violating Local Security Guards' Rights

Case underscores need for Right to Work protections for California's workers

San Francisco, CA (February 6, 2015) – The San Francisco-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 24/7 is facing a federal prosecution for violating local security guards' rights.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Universal Protection Service security guard Daniel Ozabuki filed an unfair labor practice charge for himself and seven other guards against the union alleging a litany of rights abuses.

Click here to read the full release.

UPS Seasonal Worker Receives $0 Paycheck After Company Illegally Seizes Dues for Teamster Union

News Release

UPS Seasonal Worker Receives $0 Paycheck After Company Illegally Seizes Dues for Teamster Union

Worker files federal charge to challenge illegal union dues payment

Stockton, CA (February 4, 2015) – A former seasonal United Parcel Service (UPS) employee has filed a federal charge against the company after it illegally confiscated Teamster union dues from his salary, leaving him with a paycheck of $0.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Santiago Olmos filed the unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Shortly after Olmos was hired as a seasonal employee for the Christmas delivery rush, he attended UPS training on December 8, 2014. At the meeting, a UPS manager told all of the employees in attendance that they were required to join the Teamster Local 439 union and pay union dues.

Click here to read the full release.

Michels Corp. Construction Worker Wins Thousands in Settlement from Company & Union After Illegal Firing

News Release

Michels Corp. Construction Worker Wins Thousands in Settlement from Company & Union After Illegal Firing

Case underscores needs for Right to Work protections

Colorado Springs, CO (January 14, 2015) – A former Michels Corporation construction worker in Colorado has won a settlement from a Brownsville, Wisconsin-based company and a Colorado-based union for violating his rights and illegally firing him.

The settlement comes after Paul Castle of Fountain filed federal unfair labor practice charges with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Shortly after Michels hired Castle in August, Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 578 officials demanded he become a full dues-paying union member. Because Colorado does not have Right to Work protections for workers, workers can be forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment. However, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the Foundation-won Communication Workers v. Beck case that nonmember workers cannot be compelled to pay the portion of union dues used for the union's political and member-only activities.

Click here to read the full release.

Navy Helicopter Simulator Technician Files Federal Charge Against Local Union for Illegal Dues Demands

News Release

Navy Helicopter Simulator Technician Files Federal Charge Against Local Union for Illegal Dues Demands

Case underscores needs for Right to Work protections

San Diego, CA (January 6, 2015) – A local Navy helicopter simulator maintenance technician, who works for a private contractor for the U.S. Navy, has filed a federal charge against a union and its local and regional affiliates for violating his rights.

With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, Cubic Worldwide Technical Services employee Abraham Perez filed the unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In July 2014, Perez filled out an International Association of Machinist (IAM) union dues deduction authorization – a form union officials use to automatically withhold union dues from employee paychecks – but declined to check the union membership box. In August 2014, Perez sent a letter resigning his union membership in the IAM union; its regional affiliate, District Lodge 725; and its local affiliate, Local Lodge 1125. His letter also objected to paying full dues.

Click here to read the full release.


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