Illegal Forced Dues and Money for Politics 

News Release

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

Case underscores needs for Right to Work protections

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

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

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

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.

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

MGM Casino, Local Union Face Federal Charges for Playing Fast and Loose with Worker's Rights

Case underscores importance of Right to Work protections for Michigan workers

Detroit, MI (January 6, 2015) – An area MGM Grand Detroit casino employee has filed federal charges against a local security guard union and the casino for blocking her from exercising her rights guaranteed under Michigan's Right to Work law.

With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, Johnnie Cullens of Detroit filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

On November 18, Cullens, an MGM Grand Detroit employee since 2001, delivered a letter to her employer and the Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) Local 1111 union notifying them that she was resigning her union membership and revoking her union dues deduction authorization – a document used by union officials to collect dues from workers' paychecks. She also sent the letters by certified mail to the union on November 21.

Because the contract between the SPFPA Local 1111 union and MGM Grand Detroit has expired, Michigan's 2012 Right to Work law now applies to Cullens and her coworkers. Under Michigan's private-sector Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay money to a union. Under federal labor law, employees can revoke their dues deduction authorizations once a contract ends.

Even though the company acknowledged Cullens' union membership resignation, MGM Grand Detroit has begun to confiscate a so-called "security fee" from her paychecks, apparently at SPFPA Local 1111 union officials' behest. Cullens' charge against the union alleges that the union has accepted the unlawfully deducted fee.

Since Michigan passed Right to Work protections for workers in 2012, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have assisted numerous public and private sector workers in exercising their rights under the state laws.

"Forced-dues hungry union officials are stonewalling workers' attempts to exercise their statutory rights under Michigan's Right to Work laws," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This latest case underscores once again how making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary empowers workers whose rights are violated by forced unionism."

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

International Paper Company and Steelworker Union Face Federal Charges for Violating Local Mill Worker's Rights

Union stonewalls worker's attempt to exercise rights to refrain from union membership and dues payments

Prattville, AL (January 6, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, an International Paper Company instrument electrician has filed federal charges against a local union and the company for violating his rights.

Clanton resident James Smith filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Local 1458 union and International Paper Co. for ignoring his right to refrain from paying union dues. Under Alabama's popular Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

When Smith was hired in September 2004, he signed a Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers (PACE) International Union dues deduction authorization – a document union officials use to automatically collect dues from workers' paychecks. Later, PACE merged with the USW.

In October 2014, Smith delivered a letter to the USW union and its Local 1458 affiliate resigning his union membership and revoking his PACE union dues deduction authorization. In response, a Local 1458 union official told Smith that a USW dues deduction authorization, which Smith never signed, required that he wait until November 2 to resign his union membership and submit a revocation.

Smith sent another letter confirming his resignation and revocation on November 3. He was then told that the union would not get around to stopping dues deductions until it was "feasible."

Despite Smith's repeated requests to resign his union membership and stop dues payments, International Paper continues to confiscate full union dues from his paychecks at USW union officials' behest.

"USW union bosses are stonewalling this worker's attempts to exercise his rights under Alabama's Right to Work law to refrain from union membership and dues payments," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Schemes like this show that the ultimate goal of union officials is more forced dues collected from workers, even when rank-and-file employees want nothing to do with a union."

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, Santa Clara County Face Class-Action Lawsuit for Violating Employees' Rights

Relying on landmark Knox Supreme Court decision, county employees seek to end automatic dues deduction for union politics

San Jose, CA (December 3, 2014) – Two Santa Clara Valley Medical Center employees have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against a local union and the county that seeks to expand public employees' right to refrain from paying union dues used for union politics.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation-provided staff attorneys, San Jose-area county employees Jeffrey Lum and Andrew Li filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California's San Jose Division.

Lum and Li are not formal union members in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 521. Because California does not have a Right to Work law, workers can be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. However, nonmember workers have the right to refrain from paying for union boss politics and many other activities not related to bargaining with their employer.

Although Lum and Li are not union members, SEIU and county officials continue to deduct an amount equal to full union dues from their paychecks as if they were. Up to 14 months after taking full dues and fees from their paychecks, SEIU officials refund the illegally-seized portion of union dues, without interest. In the meantime, SEIU officials can illegally use the money on politics.

For example, SEIU Local 521 officials did not refund to Lum and Li the portion of dues illegally seized from their paychecks during 2013 until March 2014. The workers argue that this amounts to an unconstitutional interest-free loan to bankroll union boss politics.

This lawsuit also challenges existing lower federal court case law that requires nonmember public employees to pay an amount equal to full union dues -- including the part used for union politics – unless they affirmatively object. Workers who object also must renew their objections annually.

In its 2012 Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU ruling, in a case that originated in California, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an affirmative objection requirement for special assessments. The Court there indicated that it was ready to reassess whether union bosses' forced dues powers, which it called "something of an anomaly," include the power to use in any circumstances "an opt-out system for the collection of fees levied to cover nonchargeable expenses." Responding to that suggestion, the employees seek to expand Knox to apply to all instances when public employees refrain from union membership.

"Union bosses have government-granted power to compel workers to fund their political activities unless workers object -- a power granted to no other private organization in our country," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "The First Amendment right for workers who refrain from union membership to automatically not pay union dues for politics is long overdue."

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

New York Childcare Providers File Federal Lawsuit Challenging Forced Unionization Scheme

Childcare providers fight dictate to push childcare business owners into forced dues union ranks

Syracuse, NY (December 2, 2014) – A group of New York home-based childcare providers have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a 2007 executive order that greased the skids for the forced unionization of the state's home-based childcare providers. The providers seek a refund of illegally-seized union dues.

Mary Jarvis and nine other providers filed the suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Jarvis and the other providers challenge AFSCME-affiliated Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) union officials' monopoly political representation over thousands of providers in the state outside New York City who operate home-based childcare businesses.

The forced unionization scheme started under a 2007 executive order signed by disgraced former Governor Eliot Spitzer. The scheme was later codified in October 2010.

Home-based childcare and personal care providers, with Foundation attorneys' assistance, have challenged similar forced-unionization-by-government-fiat schemes in several states across the country, including Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan. On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in Harris v. Quinn striking down the Illinois scheme, ruling that individuals who receive state subsidies based on their clientele cannot be forced to pay compulsory union fees. The next day, the Court cleared the path for 50,000 home childcare providers in Michigan to receive a refund of union dues illegally taken during Michigan's now-defunct unionization scheme.

Under the New York scheme, CSEA Local 100A union officials are empowered to confiscate forced dues and fees from over 7,200 childcare providers across the state for this forced "exclusive representation." The providers in this case also seek a refund of dues illegally seized by CSEA union officials over the past two years.

Foundation attorneys argue that such schemes violate the providers' First Amendment right to choose with whom they associate to petition the government. The government does not have the constitutional authority to force citizens to accept government's handpicked political representative to lobby itself.

"Citizens have the power to select their political representation in government, not the other way around," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This scheme, which forces small business owners, and even grandma taking care of her grandchildren, into union political association is a slap in the face of fundamental American principles we hold dear."

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 Another Federal Charge for Violating a Disney Company Driver's Rights

Teamster union officials showing pattern of workers' rights abuses

Lake Buena Vista, FL (November 17, 2014) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Walt Disney Company driver has filed a federal charge against a local Teamsters union.

Winter Garden resident Anthony Pirrelli filed the unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Teamsters Local 385 for ignoring his right to refrain from paying union dues. Under Florida's popular Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

In August, Pirrelli attempted to resign union membership and revoke his union dues deduction authorization – a document used by union officials to automatically collect dues from workers' paychecks. Despite Pirrelli's efforts, Teamsters Local 385 union officials have refused to stop collecting union dues from his paychecks or provide him a copy of his union dues deduction authorization.

Two other Walt Disney workers earlier filed federal charges against Teamsters Local 385 for ignoring their right to refrain from union membership and union dues payments.

"Teamster union bosses are refusing to honor workers' legally-protected right to cut off union dues," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Much to Teamsters union bosses' chagrin, federal and state statutory protections for workers still apply in the so-called Magic Kingdom."

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

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 Grocery Union Faces Federal Charges for Retaliatory Forced Dues Confiscations

Case underscores need for Right to Work protections for workers

Burlington, WA (November 12, 2014) – A local Fred Meyer grocery store worker has filed a federal charge against the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 21 union for refusing to follow federal disclosure requirements and confiscating more than the legally-permitted amount of forced union fees from her paychecks.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Deborah Kohut of Mount Vernon filed the federal unfair labor practice charge Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Because Washington 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 politics and many other union activities.

Under federal labor case law, union officials must also provide workers with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures. This procedural safeguard helps inform workers of how their forced union dues are being spent and makes it less difficult for workers to hold union officials accountable.

Because UFCW union officials failed to provide a breakdown of expenditures that complied with federal disclosure requirements, Kohut, who was recently hired at a Fred Meyer store in Burlington, refused to sign a union dues deduction authorization – a document used by union officials to automatically collect dues from workers' paychecks. In response, UFCW union officials have levied an additional fee on top of Kohut's forced dues payments.

UFCW union officials also threatened her with job termination to force her to pay the full union member initiation fee, even though nonmember workers can pay a reduced initiation fee.

"UFCW union officials are retaliating against this worker for simply exercising her right to refrain from full union dues payments," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores the need for Washington to pass Right to Work protections for its workers."

Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for workers. Recent public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.

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

L.A. School Employees File Class-Action Lawsuit against Local SEIU for Rights Violations

Union officials stonewall workers' attempts to refrain from union membership and full dues payments

Los Angeles, CA (October 22, 2014) – A group of Los Angeles Unified School District workers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 for violating their rights.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation-provided staff attorneys, Los Angeles school district building and grounds keeper Douglas Kennedy; bus drivers Eduardo Berumen and Griselda Moran; and cafeteria worker Magi Shanagian filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

In the complaint, the school employees detail how SEIU Local 99 union officials denied their several requests, in one case dating back to October 12, 2012, to refrain from full dues paying union membership.

Because California does not have Right to Work protections for workers, workers can be forced to pay union dues and fees to an unwanted union as a condition of employment. However, under Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent, workers who refrain from union membership can also refrain from paying for union politics and members-only events.

Despite the workers' requests to refrain from union membership and full union dues payments, the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to confiscate full union dues from the workers' paychecks at SEIU Local 99 officials' behest. The workers are also challenging SEIU Local 99's agreement provision with the school district that illegally restricts workers' ability to resign union membership and dues payments to a period of 30 days over the life of an agreement, which is often for a period of three years.

"SEIU officials are stonewalling workers' attempts to refrain from paying for the union bosses' radical political agenda," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores the need for California to pass a Right to Work law making 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

Disney Company Driver Files Federal Charge Against Teamsters Union Officials for Ignoring His Rights

Workers' rights do not magically disappear in "The Most Magical Place on Earth"

Lake Buena Vista, FL (October 20, 2014) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Walt Disney Company driver has filed federal charges against a local Teamsters union and the company for violating his rights.

Lakeland resident Mike Silva filed the unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Teamsters Local 385 and Walt Disney for ignoring his right to refrain from paying union dues. Under Florida's popular Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

Silva, who refrains from union membership, sent two letters to Teamsters Local 385 union officials in August requesting a copy of his dues deduction authorization – a document used by union officials to automatically collect dues from workers' paychecks. The union officials ignored both letters. Then on September 10, Silva sent Local 385 officials a letter revoking his dues deduction authorization. This letter also got no response.

On September 30, Silva attempted to deliver a copy of the revocation letter to Walt Disney's Human Resources Department. A Human Resources representative told Silva he could not deliver his letter in person and indicated that she would probably throw away the letter if she received it.

Despite Silva's repeated efforts to exercise his right to refrain from union dues payments, Walt Disney continues to confiscate full union dues from his paychecks at Teamsters Local 385 union officials' behest.

Last month, another Walt Disney worker filed a federal charge against Teamsters Local 385 for ignoring his right to refrain from paying union dues.

"Teamster union bosses are refusing to honor workers' legally-protected right to cut off union dues," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "To Teamsters union bosses’ chagrin, federal and state statutory protections for workers still apply in the so-called Magic Kingdom."

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

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

Hospital Employees File Second Round of Federal Charges against IUOE Officials for Refusing to Provide Financial Disclosure

Union officials failed to provide nonunion workers with necessary information about the calculation of forced union fees

Springfield, OR (October 14, 2014) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, several PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center employee have filed another round of federal charges against International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 701 for failing to provide adequate financial disclosure about the amount of union dues they are forced to pay as a condition of employment.

In January 2014, Rick Wirtz, John Bykerk, and several other Sacred Heart employees sent letters to the union affirming their nonmember status and objecting to the payment of full union dues. Because Oregon lacks a Right to Work law, nonunion employees can be required to pay union fees for workplace bargaining, but they cannot be forced to contribute to activities unrelated to that purpose, such as union political spending, lobbying and members-only events.

Union officials belatedly responded to the employees’ letters in August 2014. Although they offered to reduce the workers’ dues by 13%, IUOE officials included no information about how they arrived at that figure. Under federal labor law, unions are obligated to provide an independently-audited breakdown of their financial expenditures to help nonunion employees determine what dues they are required to pay and to decide whether to challenge the calculation.

According to union officials, Sacred Heart employees could only obtain a financial breakdown if they made an appointment at the union’s office, which is a two hour drive from their homes.

After the first round of unfair labor practice charges were filed in September 2014, union officials finally sent the objecting employees an audit of the local’s expenditures. However, they provided no information about the expenditures of the union’s national affiliates. Moreover, the audit revealed that nonunion employees were being charged for “death benefits,” which are only available to full union members.

The charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency responsible for administering private sector labor law.

“When Mr. Wirtz and his co-workers asked for information they’re entitled to under federal law, union officials responded with obstruction, obfuscation, and delay,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Clearly, the union’s top priority is extracting as much money as possible from nonunion employees.”

“We hope the NLRB will promptly intervene to protect Sacred Heart employees’ workplace rights,” continued Semmens. “However, this type of abuse will persist until Oregon 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.

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