Honolulu, Hawaii (January 30, 2003) — By certifying a federal lawsuit as a class action, the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii has allowed 625 non-union members of the University of Hawaii to challenge the money confiscated for politics and other activities by University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) union officials.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys originally filed the civil rights lawsuit, Swanson v. UHPA, last September on behalf of Sandra Swanson, an instructor at Maui Community College.
Since August 2000, the UHPA and its national affiliate, the National Education Association (NEA), have demanded that all non-members pay an agency fee equal to the cost of full union dues. The union hierarchy never observed employees’ due process rights, including failing to provide an independent audit of the union’s books and records to ensure that objecting employees are not subsidizing non-collective bargaining activities.
“For years, Hawaii’s union officials have been trampling the rights of educators in order to seize union dues to be spent on politics,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as interpreted in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, union officials must provide independently audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures made from forced union dues seized from teachers who have chosen to refrain from union membership.
According to the constitutional protections construed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won decisions of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, the union may only collect compulsory dues that are spent on collective bargaining activity. Politics, lobbying, organizing, public relations, and other non-bargaining activities are explicitly non-chargeable to employees who have exercised their right to refrain from union membership.
The NEA is one of the most politically active unions in the country. Every year, union officials seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many of their members find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of rank-and-file union members object to having their dues spent for political activities.