Illegal Forced Dues and Money for Politics 

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.
News Release

Arizona Fry's Employees Take Federal Challenge to Illegal Union Dues Scheme to DC Appeals Court

Obama Labor Board rubberstamps years of suspected widespread abuse

Washington, DC (April 22, 2015) – Seven Phoenix-area Fry's Food Stores employees have appealed their federal case filed after United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 99 union and company officials refused to honor their legal right to refrain from union dues payments.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Shirley Jones of Mesa; Karen Medley and Elaine Brown of Apache Junction; Kimberly Stewart and Saloomeh Hardy of Queen Creek; and Tommy and Janette Fuentes of Florence – acting for other similarly situated employees – filed federal unfair labor practice charges in December 2009 that spurred the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to investigate and issue a statewide complaint against UFCW Local 99 union officials.

In the midst of a well-publicized UFCW Local 99 union-threatened strike in November 2009, the employees resigned their UFCW union membership and revoked their dues deduction authorizations – a document used by union officials to automatically withhold dues from employee paychecks – while the UFCW union did not have a contract at their workplaces. Despite the employees' best efforts to halt the dues seizures, Fry's continued to illegally deduct dues from the employee's paychecks for the UFCW union hierarchy.

Under Arizona's popular Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay any money to a union, and under federal labor law, if there is no longer a bargaining agreement in effect between a union and an employer, employees can revoke their dues deduction authorizations at any time.

After a four month long investigation, the Phoenix NLRB regional director initiated a prosecution against UFCW Local 99 union officials for enforcing illegal dues deduction authorizations that do not allow employees to revoke them during contract hiatus periods, contrary to federal law. However, an NLRB administrative law judge rubberstamped the scheme. The NLRB in Washington, D.C. now has upheld the ruling on appeal a second time. The NLRB previously rubberstamped the ruling in a decision later invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Noel Canning that the Board lacked a valid quorum after President Obama's unconstitutional 2012 NLRB "recess appointments."

The seven Fry's employees are again appealing the NRLB's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

"The Obama NLRB has rubberstamped UFCW Local 99 bosses' years of suspected abuse and violation of thousands of workers’ rights across the state of Arizona," said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "We applaud these workers' pursuit for justice on behalf of thousands of workers who may have been illegally forced into paying union dues in violation of Arizona'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

Local Sheet Metal Factory Workers File Federal Charges against Machinist Union and Company

Case underscores need for Wisconsin's new Right to Work law

Allenton, WI (April 22, 2015) – Three Maysteel, LLC sheet metal fabrication factory workers have filed federal charges against a local Machinist union and the company for violating their rights.

With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Daniel Sarauer of Campbellsport, Dan Zastrow of Mayville, and Daryl Bartsch of Oakfield filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Milwaukee.

International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local Lodge 2053 union officials currently enjoy monopoly bargaining control over the Maysteel workers' workplace. Previously, the three workers resigned their union membership and exercised their right upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck case to refrain from paying for union political activities and member-only events. Even though they are not union members, they have still been forced to accept the union hierarchy's so-called representation and pay union fees as a condition of employment.

Under Wisconsin's Right to Work law making union dues payments completely voluntary, contracts entered into after the law went into effect must respect workers’ right to refrain from the payment of any union dues.

The three workers have since made multiple requests of the IAM union and the company for copies of their union dues deduction authorizations – a document union officials use to take dues or fees from workers' paychecks. IAM Local 2053 union officials have refused to provide the workers with copies of their dues deduction authorizations. Meanwhile, company officials have maintained that they do not have any copies of the forms.

"To keep their forced-dues gravy train going as long as possible, Machinist union officials are stonewalling these workers' requests to learn when they will be able to refrain from paying union dues or fees under Wisconsin's new Right to Work law," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Schemes like this underscore the importance Wisconsin's new Right to Work law has for workers who want to exercise their right to refrain from union affiliation once the law applies to their workplaces."

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

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.

Because Missouri does not have Right to Work protections for workers, workers can be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. However, under Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent, nonmember workers can refrain from paying for union boss politics and many other activities unrelated to bargaining and contract administration.

Rosensteel, a former NAGE Local R14-139 union president, and Fenton filed the federal charges after NAGE union officials stonewalled several workers' requests to refrain from formal, dues-paying union membership and refused to follow federal disclosure requirements designed to better inform workers of their rights.

Company management entered into a settlement with Rosensteel after the NLRB initiated a prosecution in November 2014 against the company and the union based on her charge.

Under the terms of the settlement with NAGE Local R14-139 union officials, the union hierarchy will refund 14 EDP employees dues illegally seized from their paychecks, totaling $1,580.70.

"It is sad that workers have to resort to federal legal action in order to exercise their rights," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores the need for Missouri to pass Right to Work protections for its workers."

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

Teamster Union Faces Federal Charge for Violating Machinery Manufacturing Company Worker’s Rights

Teamster union officials retaliate against workers who exercise rights under Texas' popular Right to Work law

Longview, TX (April 14, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Crosby Group/Lebus Manufacturing Company worker has filed a federal charge against a local Teamsters union for violating her rights.

White Oak resident Sammie Monroe filed the unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Teamsters Local 568 for threatening her for exercising her right to refrain from paying union dues. Under Texas' popular Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

Even though Monroe resigned her formal union membership and now refrains from paying dues, she must still accept Teamster Local 568 union officials’ so-called "representation." Because Teamster union officials have claimed monopoly bargaining privilege to speak for and control all workers, including nonmembers like Monroe, they must fairly represent all the workers in the bargaining unit.

However, Teamster Local 568 union officials have threatened Monroe and other workers in the workplace who refrain (or are considering to refrain) from union membership, stating that they will refuse to represent the workers if they have a grievance against the company unless they pay the union hierarchy a fee.

"Teamster union bosses are retaliating against workers who are exercising their legally-protected right to resign from dues-paying union membership under Texas' popular Right to Work law," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Much to Teamsters union bosses' chagrin, if they insist on having monopoly bargaining powers over workers, then they cannot punish those workers for exercising their Right to Work."

The charge will be investigated by the NLRB regional office in Houston.

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

Part-time Fry's Pharmacy Tech Hits Grocery Union Officials with Federal Charge for Violating His Rights

Union bosses continue to stonewall college student's attempts to exercise rights under Arizona's popular Right to Work law

Phoenix, AZ (April 14, 2015) – A Fry's Food and Drugstore pharmacy technician and Arizona State University (ASU) student has filed a federal charge against the United Food and Commercial Worker (UFCW) Local 99 union for stonewalling his attempts to exercise his rights to refrain from union membership and dues payments under Arizona's popular Right to Work law.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Phoenix resident Travis Prall filed the unfair labor practice charge last Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Under Arizona's Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

Prall, an ASU biology student, began working for Fry's in December 2013. In January 2015, Prall, seeking to resign his union membership and revoke his union dues deduction form, made several calls to the union hierarchy to find the exact dates during which he could resign his union membership. He never received a response.

On February 3, Prall sent a letter to the union resigning his union membership. The next day, the union rejected his membership resignation because his letter did not contain a written signature. Prall immediately sent a second, signed letter in response. On February 24, UFCW Local 99 union officials sent a letter accepting Prall's union membership resignation but denied his dues deduction authorization revocation because it did not fall in the union's 15-day "window period." However, UFCW union officials have still refused to inform Prall what the 15-day "window period" is.

"UFCW union bosses are stonewalling this student, who is working part-time to help pay his way through college, about how he can exercise his legally-protected right to resign from dues-paying union membership," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This blatant abuse of power by UFCW bosses must stop immediately."

The charge will be investigated by the NLRB regional office in Phoenix.

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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