Illegal Forced Dues and Money for Politics 

News Release

Two Rulings Reject Union Boss Attempts to Attack Michigan Employees’ Right to Work without Paying Union Dues

State Supreme Court and Federal District Court both rule against union challenges to Right to Work protections for public- and private-sector employees

Detroit, MI (July 31, 2015) – Today, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has issued an order dismissing an AFL-CIO legal challenge to Michigan's recently-enacted private-sector Right to Work law. Meanwhile, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Civil Service Commission has no authority to require state employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, responded to these developments with the following statement:

“Despite union lawyers’ best efforts, two spurious attempts to undermine Michigan’s popular Right to Work laws have failed. In both cases, Foundation staff attorneys filed briefs for Michigan employees who opposed any attempt to restore union officials’ forced-dues privileges.”

“Thanks to these decisions, Michigan civil servants and private-sector employees will continue to enjoy Right to Work protections, which ensure that they cannot be fired for refusing to join or pay dues to a union. Any Michigan workers who need help exercising their right to cut off union dues or fees should immediately contact the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid.”

In the public sector case, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys submitted an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief for Thomas Haxby, an employee of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. After Michigan's Right to Work law went into effect, Haxby resigned his membership in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 517M, one of the unions that filed the suit, and opted out of paying union dues.

Responding to the AFL-CIO’s legal challenge to Michigan’s private-sector Right to Work law, Foundation staff attorneys also filed a brief for four Michigan employees, all of whom were employed in workplaces covered by a forced-dues contract between their employers and unions before the Right to Work law was enacted.

Prior to enactment of the Right to Work laws, the four workers could be forced to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs, despite the fact they were not union members and opposed a union presence.

Private-sector Michigan employees seeking to learn about their rights under Right to Work should read the Foundation’s special legal notice: http://www.nrtw.org/en/special-legal-notice-michigan-private-sector-work...

Public-sector Michigan employees seeking to learn about their rights under Right to Work should read the Foundation’s special legal notice: http://www.nrtw.org/en/special-legal-notice-michigan-public-workers-righ...

Any employee who needs help exercising his or her rights can contact the Foundation for free legal aid by calling 1-800-336-3600 or through the Foundation’s website: http://www.nrtw.org/legal.htm

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Connecticut State Employees Win Settlement Protecting their Right to Refrain from Paying for Union Politics

Class-action settlement also ensures that nonunion employees who objected to subsidizing union politics will receive dues refunds

Hartford, CT (July 17, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, eight state employees have reached a class-wide settlement with several state officials and the Connecticut State Employee Association (CSEA)/SEIU Local 2001 union that protects their right to opt out of paying dues for union politics. The agreement covers 215 state workers and ensures that employees who resigned from the union and objected to paying dues for union politics but did not have their objections honored will receive refunds pursuant to the terms of the agreement.

In Connecticut and other states without Right to Work laws, employees can be forced to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs. However, the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson established that nonunion civil servants are due certain procedural protections of their right to refrain from paying dues or fees for activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as union political activism.

In January 2014, Stanley Juber, Thomas Faenza, Andreas Fesenmeyer, Thomas Capobianco, Veronica Calin, Gregg Shaffer, Roger Levesque, and Kurt Von Hone filed a class-action lawsuit in United States District Court on behalf of similarly-situated nonunion employees within Local 2001’s Engineering, Scientific and Technical (P-4) bargaining unit. The suit challenged a union policy that only recognized employee attempts to opt out of paying full union dues during an annual 30-day window period designated by union officials. Employees who resigned their union membership and tried to opt out of paying full dues after that period had expired were forced to continue paying full dues until the next year’s window.

Under the terms of the agreement, employees in the plaintiffs’ bargaining unit who resigned their union membership after the window period lapsed will now have their objections to paying dues for union politics honored. Those employees will receive a refund for the period they were charged full union fees. The settlement applies to all current and former P-4 bargaining unit state employees who fall within the class from January 1, 2011 forward.

“This settlement ensures that these nonunion civil servants will no longer be forced to pay any money for union political activism, but it is outrageous that it took a federal lawsuit to enforce these fundamental rights,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case underscores the need for a Connecticut Right to Work law, which would fully protect workers’ rights by making all union dues strictly voluntary.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Foundation Issues Statement on NLRB Suspension of Call for Briefs in Case Designed to Undermine Right to Work Laws

The NLRB has suspended its request for briefs to consider overturning 60 years of precedent to allow unions to charge nonmember employees fees for grievances

Washington, DC (July 8, 2015) – United Steel Workers Local 1192 has reached a settlement in a dispute with an employee that had the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking for briefs to consider overturning long-standing precedents and allow union officials in Right to Work states to charge nonmember employees fees for processing grievances through the union controlled and imposed grievance system. The Board’s invitation for briefs was widely seen as a signal that the NLRB majority intended to overturn longstanding precedents protecting workers in Right to Work states from paying union fees as a condition of employment.

In response to the news, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement:

This development should provide an important albeit likely temporary victory to workers all across America. Because the case has been settled, it is no longer appropriate for the NRLB to use this case to revisit long standing precedent that prevents union bosses from charging nonmembers any fees, including for grievance processing in Right to Work states.

Millions of workers in America’s 25 Right to Work states will no longer be under an immediate threat of being forced to pay fees to a union boss. Had the NLRB followed through on its intention to permit union officials to charge fees for grievance processing, it would have overturned 60 years of NLRB and federal court legal precedent and circumvented Right to Work laws in 25 states.

In America, no worker should have a portion of their paycheck seized by union bosses for a service that he or she is forced to accept.

Union officials impose a union monopoly contract which includes a union-controlled grievance system on nonmembers who don’t support the union, which makes this fee-for-grievance scheme nothing more than another attempt by Big Labor to circumvent and undermine Right to Work laws that now cover 25 states.

The Big Labor-stacked NLRB’s scheme to allow union bosses to charge nonmembers grievance fees appears to have been stopped, at least for now. But this fight will almost certainly continue. The National Right to Work Foundation will continue to offer free legal aid to any nonmember employee who is being charged for grievance processing or suffering any other sort of workplace abuse at the hands of union bosses.

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus brief in the case last year when it was first appealed to the NLRB, and were finalizing a second brief in response to the NLRB’s invitation when the unexpected settlement halted the Board’s proceedings.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

National Right to Work Foundation Issues Statement on Supreme Court Granting Cert in Friedrichs

Case could outlaw forced union dues in the public sector

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, issued the following statement on the Supreme Court's decision to grant cert in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

The Supreme Court’s announcement that it will hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is an important step towards finally respecting the First Amendment rights of America’s public servants. The question of whether teachers and other government employees can be required to subsidize the speech of a union they do not support as a condition of working for their own government is now squarely before the Court. We hope the Court will build on majority opinions from the National Right to Work Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU and Harris v. Quinn cases and finally rule that mandatory union dues violate the fundamental principles laid out in the Bill of Rights.

The American people overwhelmingly support the principle that while individual employees should be free to join and pay dues to a union if they so choose, none should be required to do so, which is fully in line with the First Amendment’s protections for Free Speech and Freedom of Association.  We hope the High Court will follow through on last year’s Harris decision and ensure that no public employee will ever again be forced to pay union dues to get or keep a job. 

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

School Bus Driver Wins Precedent: Michigan Public Employees Can Stop Paying Union Dues at Any Time

MERC votes that Teamster union officials violated Right to Work law by requiring workers to wait for a “window period” to stop paying dues

Howell, MI (June 10, 2015) – Yesterday, the Michigan Employee Relations Commission (MERC) unanimously decided to strike down a Teamster Local 214 policy that required Pauline Beutler and other employees to wait for a union-designated “window period” to stop paying union dues. Beutler, a school bus driver with the Livingston Education Service Agency, challenged the Teamsters’ policy with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Beutler filed charges with the MERC against the Teamsters in October 2013 after she attempted to leave the union and stop paying union dues. Instead of complying with Beutler's request, union officials told her that she would have to wait until July 2014 before she could revoke her dues deduction authorization and stop paying union dues. A dues deduction authorization is a document union officials use to collect dues or fees directly from workers' paychecks.

Beutler argued that Michigan's Right to Work law, which went into effect in March 2013, invalidates the union's window period requirement. Under the new law, employees have the right to resign their formal union membership and stop financially supporting a union at any time.

Although the MERC ruled in the case during a hearing on June 9, the official written decision is not expected until later this summer. By striking down Local 214’s window period, the MERC has established a precedent that any government union restriction on dues deduction revocations violates the state’s public sector Right to Work law.

In addition to Beutler’s case, Foundation staff attorneys are helping several other Michigan employees assert their newly-enshrined workplace rights. Foundation litigators are also defending Michigan’s Right to Work laws in state and federal court from union legal counter-attacks.

"Across the state, union bosses are attempting to circumvent Michigan’s recently-enacted Right to Work laws," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "We are offering free legal assistance to any Michigan employee whose newly-enshrined rights have been ignored or violated by union officials.”

“Passing Michigan’s Right to Work laws was only the first step,” continued Mix. “Without vigorous enforcement, these vital reforms will be hollowed out by scofflaw union bosses. That is why we are proud to help Michigan employees stand up for their rights in court.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Federal Judge Certifies Class-Action Lawsuit Challenging Forced Fees for California Civil Servants

Lawsuit builds on Knox Supreme Court decision, seeks to require unions to obtain employees’ affirmative consent before collecting any money for political activities

Sacramento, CA (May 27, 2015) – The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California has just granted class-action status to a lawsuit filed by California civil servants against SEIU Local 1000. The lawsuit challenges the union’s collection policy, which requires nonmembers to affirmatively object to paying for union politics, and asks that the SEIU be required to get employees’ permission before spending their money on political activism. The plaintiffs are receiving free legal assistance from a National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney, who has been certified as the attorney for a class estimated to consist of at least 34,000 workers.

The lawsuit builds on Knox v. SEIU Local 1000, a Right to Work Foundation-won United States Supreme Court decision from 2012. In Knox, the High Court held, for the first time, that a union should not have collected dues for a political spending campaign without nonmembers’ affirmative consent.

In California and 24 other states that lack Right to Work laws, nonunion employees can be forced to pay union dues or fees to keep a job. However, employees have the right to opt out of paying for activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as union political activism.

Unfortunately, many unions require employees to annually object to those payments if they wish to refrain from paying for union politics. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit seeks to shift that burden from employees, whose paychecks and rights are at stake, to union officials, who would then be required to receive nonmembers’ permission before collecting any money for politics.

The lawsuit notes that SEIU 1000’s current policy – which requires nonunion public employees to object annually to union political spending – effectively rigs the game in the union’s favor. Although nonunion employees are supposed to receive notices informing them of their rights to opt out of paying for union politics, several of the plaintiffs never received any information. Others were only notified after a union-designated window period for objecting had already expired.

The district court ruled that the certified class will consist of all nonunion state workers employed within SEIU Local 1000’s bargaining units, from June 2013 onwards.

“We are happy to report that all nonunion civil servants in SEIU Local 1000’s bargaining units will have a chance to reclaim at least some of the compulsory fees taken from their paychecks,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We hope the courts will recognize the importance of requiring union officials to get employees’ consent before collecting money for political activism.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Michigan Bus Drivers File Complaint to Enforce Their Rights Under Michigan’s Right to Work Law

AFSCME union officials and school district entered into illegal agreement threatening the jobs of drivers who don’t pay union dues or fees

Oakland County, MI (May 22, 2015) –Ten Michigan workers filed a complaint in Oakland County Circuit Court alleging their rights, under the Michigan Right to Work law, were violated when they were forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment, and when they were threatened with termination of employment.

The workers, Ronald Weider, Robin Atkins, Claudine Barnes, Arthur Brannan, Brad Bell, Belinda Colley, Cheryl Gorham, Danyell Polk, Sonya Tiggs, and Lisa Vanderzyppe are all school bus drivers for the Avondale School District, and are represented by attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The bus drivers are seeking injunctive relief, return of dues paid to the union, and other relief from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 202 (AFSCME) union officials who have the power to exclusively represent all workers in the bargaining unit, even nonmember employees.

The monopoly bargaining agreement contains a “union security” clause requiring the forced payment of union dues as a condition of employment. However, Michigan’s Right to Work law prohibits such clauses. The collective bargaining agreement between the union and Avondale was entered into and went into effect after March 28, 2013, the effective date of Michigan’s Right to Work law.

The complaint details how some of the workers resigned their membership in the union and were coerced into rejoining after they were misled and told they would lose their jobs if they did not join or pay fees. Michigan’s and the 24 other states' Right to Work laws give protection and free choice to workers who do not wish to join or pay dues to a union.

Foundation staff attorneys have extensive experience defending state Right to Work laws in federal and state courts, including Michigan’s Right to Work Law, which just last year was upheld in a legal challenge brought in federal court. Currently Foundation staff attorneys are helping workers in more than 20 legal actions to enforce Michigan worker’s right to exercise their Right to Work protections.

“This AFSCME ploy is a direct assault on worker freedom, and blatantly violates Michigan’s Right to Work Law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “To be truly effective, Right to Work Laws must be defended in court and enforced. No worker should ever be forced to pay union dues or fees to keep his or her job, which is why we applaud these workers for standing up and fighting for their legal rights under Michigan’s Right to Work Law.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Judge Allows Illinois Civil Servants’ First Amendment Challenge to Forced Union Dues to Proceed

Federal court challenge argues that forcing Illinois state employees to pay union dues violates the First Amendment

Springfield, IL (May 20, 2015) – A federal district court judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed by three Illinois civil servants challenging the constitutionality of public sector union officials' forced-dues privileges can proceed.

The three state employees, Mark Janus, Marie Quigley, and Brian Trygg, filed a motion to intervene in support of Governor Bruce Rauner’s attempt to stop the collection of forced union dues and fees from Illinois civil servants. All three employees are receiving free legal assistance from staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute's Liberty Justice Center.

Rauner issued an executive order in February that instructed state agencies to put in escrow all forced union-fee deductions from nonmember state employees' wages required by Illinois' public-sector labor relations statute, pending the outcome of a federal lawsuit filed the same day. Rauner’s lawsuit asked that a judgment be entered declaring unconstitutional the provisions of state collective bargaining agreements that require nonmember state employees to pay union fees, a move that would effectively extend Right to Work protections to Illinois state employees.

Although Judge Robert Gettleman determined that the governor lacked standing to contest union officials’ forced dues powers, the lawsuit will now proceed as a constitutional challenge to mandatory union fees by the three state employees.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court suggested in the Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU decision that it was ready to reassess whether union bosses' forced-dues powers, which it called "something of an anomaly" in American jurisprudence, violate civil servants' First Amendment rights. Last year, in the Foundation-won Harris v. Quinn ruling, the Court struck down compulsory union fees for Illinois homecare providers who receive state subsidies based on their clientele. In Harris, the Court’s majority opinion characterized public-sector union officials' forced dues powers as "questionable on several grounds."

Janus, Quigley, and Trygg now seek to build on the Supreme Court's reasoning in both cases to prohibit union officials from collecting forced dues from Illinois civil servants.

“No citizen should be forced to pay union dues or fees just to work for their own government,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We applaud these civil servants for defending their First Amendment right to not subsidize union officials' agenda. We are also hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will soon outlaw this unjust practice for every public employee across the country.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Union Faces Federal Charges for Illegally Forcing Nonunion Deaconess Hospital Employees to Pay Dues During Contract Hiatus

SEIU officials are suspected of backdating union contract to extort more forced union dues from nonunion hospital employees

Spokane, WA (May 19, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, four nonunion Deaconess Hospital employees have filed federal charges against the hospital and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199NW for attempting to force them to pay union dues during a period when there was no contract between their employer and the union.

Nina Bennett, Tori Denniston, Ryan Reedy, and Edgar Schlittenhart have all refrained from joining the SEIU. In Washington and other states that lack Right to Work laws, nonunion workers can be forced to pay union dues to keep a job. However, nonunion employees do have the right to opt out of dues for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as politics and lobbying. Moreover, nonunion employees cannot be required to pay union dues if a union does not have an active bargaining agreement with their employer.

Bennett, Denniston, and Reedy have all asserted their right to refrain from paying full union dues. Schlittenhart, who has a sincere religious objection to affiliating with the SEIU, had previously come to an agreement with union officials redirecting his dues to a third-party charity.

From July 2013 to April 6, 2014, there was a contract hiatus between Deaconess Hospital and SEIU 1199NW. Despite their nonunion status, Bennett, Denniston, Reedy, and Schlittenhart all received letters from the union in April 2015 insisting they pay dues for the period the union lacked a contract with their employer. The employees also believe that the union intentionally backdated the contract with Deaconess Hospital to extend the period of time in which they can be forced to pay union dues.

Union officials followed up that letter with threats to terminate the employees if they did not immediately comply with their demands. Not only that, but SEIU bosses are now attempting to force all four employees to pay full union dues, despite the fact none of them belong to the union.

The employees’ charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency charged with administering private sector labor law.

“SEIU bosses and pliant hospital officials are attempting to force nonunion employees to pay dues for a period of time when the union didn’t even have a contract with the hospital,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Forcing workers to pay dues is intolerable under any circumstances, but it’s especially absurd to charge these nonunion workers for the dubious benefits of union ‘representation’ at a time when the union lacked any sort of agreement with their employer.”

“Ultimately, the only way to prevent future abuse is for Washington to adopt a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary,” added Mix.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

National Right to Work Foundation Files Brief for Workers Defending Wisconsin Right to Work Law

Foundation has successfully defended several state Right to Work laws from Big Labor

Dane County, WI (May 12, 2015) – The National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal assistance to employees nationwide, has just filed an amicus curiae brief in defense of Wisconsin’s recently-enacted Right to Work law for four Wisconsin workers. The brief was filed in Dane County Circuit Court in response to an International Association of Machinists (IAM) union lawsuit.

Randy Darty, Tod Momberg, Daniel Sarauer, and Daniel Zastrow are all nonunion employees who work in unionized workplaces. All four wish to safeguard their right to refrain from paying dues to unions to which they don’t belong. Prior to enactment of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law, nonunion private-sector employees could be forced to pay union dues to keep a job.

The National Right to Work Foundation has a long history of successfully defending Right to Work laws in state and federal court, most recently in Indiana and Michigan. Foundation attorneys also provided free legal assistance to several Wisconsin public-sector employees who sought to refrain from paying union dues or fees under Governor Scott Walker's 2011 public-sector labor reforms.

After Wisconsin’s Right to Work law went into effect on March 11, 2015, the National Right to Work Foundation announced an offer of free legal aid to any employees seeking to assert their rights under the new law. The Foundation also created a special task force to defend the Wisconsin law in court from any Big Labor legal challenges.

“Wisconsin’s Right to Work law was a victory for workplace freedom, but union officials have never relinquished their forced-dues privileges without a fight,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Fortunately, our staff attorneys have a great deal of experience defending state Right to Work laws in court.”

“We encourage any Wisconsin employees who wish to assert their new workplace rights to contact the National Right to Work Foundation today for free legal assistance,” continued Mix.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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