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.
Under federal labor law, workers have the right to refrain from formal union membership. However, because California does not have Right to Work protections for workers, nonmember workers can be forced to pay a part of union dues and fees.
As a result of the Foundation's U.S. Supreme Court victory in Communications Workers v. Beck, employees can refrain from paying for politics and many other union activities.
Despite Perez's union resignation, the IAM union hierarchy assessed full union dues against him. The IAM finally responded to Perez's letter in October but indicated that he had to wait another month before he could refrain from full union dues payments.
In the meantime, the IAM's regional affiliate, IAM District Lodge 725, sent him three confusing and misleading letters over two months demanding that he pay full union dues or face termination from his job. Moreover, Lodge 725 union officials charged Perez a "reinstatement fee" penalty for "administrative costs" that were only incurred because the union failed to process his dues deduction authorization.
"IAM union bosses are requiring workers to jump through hoops just to exercise their statutory right to refrain from paying full union dues," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case demonstrates that California desperately needs a Right to Work law, which would make union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.