Illegal Forced Dues and Money for Politics 

News Release

State Commission Affirms Employees’ Rights to Leave Unions, Stop Paying Dues for Politics at Any Time

Decisions struck down union “window period” policies that restricted employees’ rights to leave unions, opt out of dues

Detroit, MI (January 22, 2016) – In two recent cases, the Michigan Employee Relations Commission (MERC) has affirmed the right of Michigan employees to leave a union and stop paying dues for union politics at any time. Both cases were brought by public school employees who received free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

In the case of Mark Norgan, a Standish-Sterling Community Schools employee, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union insisted that he could only leave the union during an annual 30 day window period. James Cottrell, a Lenawee Intermediate School District employee, was told by Teamsters Local 214 officials that he had to notify them during a 15 day window period if he wished to opt out of dues for union politics.

These cases were only possible because of the right to refrain amendments included in Michigan’s Right to Work laws. Both have important implications for nonunion workers who are still subject to forced-dues contracts agreed to by their employers and unions before the 2012 labor reforms went into effect. Although Michigan’s Right to Work laws prohibit union contracts that require nonunion employees to belong to a union or pay union dues or fees, contracts entered into before the laws went into effect remain in force until they expire.

Consequently, many Michigan employees can still be required to pay union dues to get or keep a job. However, long-standing Supreme Court precedents hold that no employee can be required to join a union or pay dues for activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as union politics. Both Norgan and Cottrell attempted to exercise their rights to leave their respective unions and stop paying full union dues. In Norgan’s case, MEA officials denied his request to resign his union membership because he missed an arbitrary annual window period. In Cottrell’s case, Teamster officials used a spurious 15 day window period requirement to force him to continue paying dues for union politics.

The MERC’s decisions affirm the right of any Michigan employee, even those still subject to forced-dues contracts, to leave a union at any time and opt out of dues for union politics.

“Thanks to Michigan’s 2012 labor reforms, most Michigan employees can no longer be forced to pay any dues at all to a labor union,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, many Michigan workers still labor under forced-dues contracts that were grandfathered under the Right to Work laws.”

“Although those workers can still be forced to pay some union dues, they cannot be required to formally join a union or pay dues for union politics,” continued Mix. “We’ll continue to fight for the rights of these employees until every forced-dues contract in the state has expired and all Michigan workers enjoy the benefits of their state’s Right to Work laws.”

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

Worker Advocate Issues Statement on Supreme Court Case that Could End Public Sector Forced Union Dues

Oral arguments begin in Friedrichs, a case that builds on Foundation Supreme Court precedents to challenge forced dues for civil servants

Washington, DC (January 10, 2016) – Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement regarding oral arguments in Friedrichs, a case brought by California public school teachers that challenges the constitutionality of mandatory union dues:

“For too long, union officials have been allowed to force teachers and other public employees to pay money to a union they don’t support just to work for their own government. Our hope is that the case the Supreme Court hears today will end this injustice once and for all.

“In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the United States Supreme Court is presented with a unique opportunity to end forced union dues in the public sector. In Harris v. Quinn and Knox v. SEIU – two recent, Foundation-won precedents – the High Court suggested that it was time to revisit the constitutionality of forcing civil servants to pay dues to unions they don’t belong to or support. We expect that the Court will follow through on those opinions and free public employees across the country from the burden of mandatory union dues.

“Drawing on decades of experience in the field of labor law, Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs and thoroughly examined the arguments presented by both sides. Our litigators believe that the merits of the arguments in Friedrichs clearly favor the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.

“Whatever the outcome in Friedrichs, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys stand ready to assist employees whose rights have been violated by forced unionism. As we have since our founding in 1968, we will continue to work toward the day when no employee is forced to pay union dues just to get or keep a job.”

Foundation experts are available to comment on the Friedrichs case and any other related issues. For more information, contact Will Collins at (703) 770-3317 or via email at wfc@nrtw.org.

 

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

UAW Hit with Federal Charges for Repeatedly Rejecting GM Worker’s Attempt to Leave Union, Stop Paying Dues

Union and GM officials ignore Michigan Right to Work protections

Oakland County, MI (December 1, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a local General Motors employee has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against his employer and the United Autoworkers (UAW) Local 5960 union. According to Daniel Lowery, union officials repeatedly ignored his requests to resign from the union and stop paying union dues.

Lowery is employed at GM’s Lake Orion Assembly Plant. He first submitted a written request to resign and stop paying union dues in late August, but this was denied by UAW officials. Lowery tried again in late September, only to have UAW officials reject his resignation on the grounds that he did not include his signature, a witness’s signature, and his social security number. He then resubmitted his resignation on October 2 with the information union officials demanded.

Instead of complying with Lowry’s request, the union called him down to its plant office, where a UAW official tried to persuade him not to resign. Lowery reiterated his desire to leave the union and stop paying dues, but the UAW again refused to honor his resignation. Moreover, GM continues to deduct full union dues from Lowery’s paycheck.

Under Michigan’s recently-enacted Right to Work laws, employees have the right to leave a union and stop paying union dues at any time. The laws exempted forced-dues contracts agreed to by employers and union officials before the legislation went into effect, including the UAW’s agreement with the “Big Three” automakers. Now that the UAW’s contract with the automakers has expired, all Big Three employees are free to leave the union and stop paying dues at any time.

Lowery’s charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency responsible for enforcing private sector labor law.

“It is outrageous that nearly three years after Michigan’s Right to Work laws were enacted, union bosses still are blocking workers from exercising their right to resign their union membership and stop paying union dues and fees,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Instead of respecting Mr. Lowery’s right to decide whether to join and financially support the union, scofflaw UAW bosses simply ignored his wishes.”

“We encourage any Michigan employee who needs help asserting his or her rights under Michigan’s Right to Work laws to contact the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal assistance,” 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

UAW’s Plan to “Extend” Expired Contract with the Big Three Doesn’t Impact Workers’ Rights to Stop Paying Union Dues

Worker advocate issues statement clarifying employee rights

Springfield, VA (September 22, 2015) – The National Right to Work Foundation, which provides free legal assistance to employees nationwide, issued the following statement after UAW officials announced that they would extended their expired bargaining agreement with the Big Three Automakers on an ‘hour-by-hour basis’:

The UAW’s recent announcement that it will extend the existing bargaining agreement with the Big Three Automakers on an “hour-by-hour basis” does not change the fact that Big Three employees in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin now have the right to stop paying union dues. If you or someone you know has been denied the right to stop paying union dues by UAW officials on the grounds that their previous bargaining agreement with the UAW has been extended, contact the National Right to Work Foundation immediately by visiting the Foundation’s website or calling 1-800-336-3600.

“UAW officials can say what they want, but they no longer have the legal authority to require Big Three employees in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana to pay union dues as any ‘extended’ contract is now fully covered by state Right to Work laws,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “It’s important that employees in all three states understand and are able to exercise their recently-enshrined workplace rights, and we encourage any autoworker who wishes to stop paying union dues to contact the National Right to Work Foundation immediately for free legal assistance.”

The Foundation’s full legal notice to UAW employees can be read here.

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

SEIU Officials Face Federal Hearing for Illegally Enrolling New Hospital Employees as Dues-Paying Union Members

Hospital employee filed unfair labor practice charges with the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys

Thousand Oaks, CA (September 15, 2015) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a formal complaint against the SEIU United Healthcare Workers West union for violating the rights of Guillermo Cornejo, a nurses’ aid at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center.

In March of 2012, SEIU officials informed Cornejo that he was automatically enrolled as a union member after he started working at Los Robles and would be expected to pay full union dues. SEIU officials never properly informed Cornejo of his rights to refrain from formal union membership and opt out of paying full dues.

In California and other states that lack Right to Work laws, nonunion employees can be required to pay union fees as a condition of employment. However, they cannot be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as political activism. Moreover, federal labor law holds that no employee can be forced to formally join a union. Union officials have a legal duty to inform employees of their rights.

Despite these protections, SEIU officials never informed Cornejo of his workplace rights and failed to give Los Robles employees adequate information about how to opt out of paying dues for union politics. In April 2013, SEIU officials attempted to have Cornejo fired from the hospital for refusing to comply with their forced-dues demands.

With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Cornejo responded by filing unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB in May 2013. The Board’s General Counsel has now issued a formal complaint against the union, seeking to require union officials to inform employees of their right to refrain and obtain reimbursement, plus interest, of any union dues confiscated from nonunion employees for activities unrelated to workplace bargaining since November 2012.

“SEIU officials ignored the law to force new employees into full dues-paying union ranks,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “We’re happy to report that the NLRB has finally taken action to hold SEIU bosses accountable for this injustice, but similar union practices will continue until California adopts a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments 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

Worker Advocate: The Battle between Employee Rights and Union Boss Power Heats up this Labor Day

Supreme Court decision on public sector-forced dues, battles over state Right to Work laws, and new bureaucratic push to expand Big Labor’s privileges all loom

Springfield, VA (September 4, 2015) – Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation and the National Right to Work Committee, issued the following statement on the occasion of Labor Day 2015:

“This Labor Day, many Americans will enjoy a well-deserved three day weekend. After the festivities, vacations, and beach trips have ended, however, several important fights for employee freedom loom on the horizon.

“The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case that could end all public-sector forced dues in one fell swoop. The Friedrichs challenge would not have been possible without two recent, National Right to Work Foundation-won Supreme Court cases – Harris v. Quinn and Knox v. SEIU – and we hope the High Court will take this opportunity to end the practice of forcing civil servants to pay union dues just to work for their own government.

“Meanwhile, state-level legislative activity over the Right to Work issue will continue to expand. Recently enacted Right to Work laws in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin have spurred efforts to emulate those reforms in states across the country. The fight to expand employee freedom, encourage economic growth, and roll back union bosses’ special privileges will continue from Maine to Ohio to Missouri, and the National Right to Work Committee will be mobilizing for all of these efforts.

“All of this takes place against the backdrop of an Administration that has abandoned all pretense of neutrality in an effort to expand Big Labor’s privileges through bureaucratic channels. Under President Obama, the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, and other federal agencies have relentlessly favored union officials’ power, frequently at the expense of independent-minded employees’ rights.

“This Labor Day, as we celebrate hard-working Americans from all walks of life, we should also be preparing and engaging in these important battles against compulsory unionism in both the legislative and legal arenas.”

Mix’s statement can be watched on YouTube here or listened to here. Mix and other Right to Work experts are also available for comment on a variety of labor-related issues. For more information, contact Will Collins at (703) 770-3317 or via email at wfc@nrtw.org.

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 Childcare Providers Ask Supreme Court for Refund of $4 Million in Illegally-Seized Union Dues

Plaintiffs seek to reclaim dues collected from tens of thousands of nonunion caregivers who were illegally required to pay AFSCME and UAW

Washington, DC (August 4, 2015) – Building on the National Right to Work Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU Supreme Court decision, Foundation staff attorneys have filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the High Court in Schlaud v. UAW. The class-action lawsuit seeks to reclaim millions of dollars in illegally-seized union dues for thousands of Michigan homecare providers

The petition was filed for Carrie Schlaud, Diana Orr, Peggy Mashke, and Edward and Nora Gross, who receive a small subsidy from the State of Michigan to provide home-based childcare services. Foundation staff attorneys argue that all similarly-situated Michigan caregivers are entitled to refunds of union dues collected after former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Child Care Providers Together Michigan (CCPTM) union, an organization jointly founded by AFSCME and the UAW, pushed them into union ranks.

The five plaintiffs originally filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Granholm and the CCPTM union for designating home-based childcare providers who receive state funds as public employees solely for the purpose of forcing them to accept the CCPTM's "representation" and pay union dues.

Although less than 15 percent of over 50,000 childcare providers receiving state funding voted in a union certification election, CCPTM union bosses obtained monopoly bargaining privileges and the authority to collect union dues from all home-based childcare providers in the state. The union collected over $4 million dollars in dues before Granholm’s successor, Governor Rick Snyder, ended the arrangement.

After filing their lawsuit, the five plaintiffs reached a settlement with Snyder that ensured Michigan is no longer forcing home-based childcare providers into union ranks. However, the providers' lawsuit was denied class-action status, meaning that CCPTM union officials were not required to refund $4 million in forced union dues previously collected from over 50,000 other care providers.

Foundation staff attorneys contend that the Court should give all Michigan home-based childcare providers an opportunity to reclaim the wrongfully-seized union dues. The petition also asks the Court to rule that unions must always obtain employees’ affirmative consent before collecting dues from their paychecks.

“A backroom political deal empowered union bosses to confiscate millions of dollars in forced dues from thousands of Michigan caregivers who never agreed to support a union,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The Court should see that this money is returned to Michigan childcare providers and establish that union bosses must obtain employees’ consent before collecting dues.”

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

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.

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