Pensacola, Fla. (January 8, 2003) - With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an employee of Raytheon Aerospace LLC today filed federal charges against the machinists union for illegally forcing him to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.
Robert Prime, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union, IAM District Lodge 75, and IAM Local Lodge 2777.
“In an effort to amass a political warchest, the union’s officials are demanding that workers shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Since July 2002 employees at the Pensacola facility have been forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. However, the workers never received timely notice of their right to refrain from formal union membership and pay only for activities directly related to collective bargaining.
In October, Prime notified IAM union officials that he expected them to respect his rights as a non-member and reduce his fees to cover only the cost of collective bargaining. Prime also wants the unions to retroactively refund any portion of his union fee that was used to finance activities unrelated to collective bargaining, including support for lobbying and other political activities. The unions have so far refused to make a retroactive refund.
The actions of IAM union officials violate the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck and subsequent NLRB rulings, unions must specifically inform employees of their right to refrain from formal, full dues-paying union membership and of their right to pay a reduced fee to cover only the union’s collective bargaining costs.
The Raytheon controversy is somewhat unique, since Florida has a highly popular Right to Work law that bans compulsory unionism. However, because Raytheon’s employees work on federal property under exclusive federal jurisdiction, the state’s Right to Work law does not protect them.
“The abusive actions of IAM union officials show why most Florida workers are fortunate to have the protections of a Right to Work Law,” said Gleason.