Green Bay, Wis. (January 10, 2003) – With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a worker at Gremar Metal Industries, Inc. has filed federal charges against Sheet Metal Workers (SMW) union Local 18 for failing to provide an adequate breakdown of how it spends workers’ forced union dues.
Russell Feld, a non-union employee, filed the unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board after receiving a copy of the union’s audit last year. The audit attempts to justify mandatory union dues spent for activities that employees cannot be lawfully forced to fund, including 100% of the union’s organizing costs and other expenditures unrelated to collective bargaining.
“Union officials do not have a right to force dissenting employees to underwrite efforts to expand forced unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Compulsory unionism privileges, enshrined in federal law, have created a culture of arrogance and corruption within the organized labor hierarchy.”
According to Feld’s charges, union officials also failed to provide an independent audit of its expenditures. The financial information the SMW union provided is based on records compiled by the corrupt accounting firm, Thomas Havey, LLP.
In recent months, two top partners at the Havey firm pleaded guilty to federal crimes, including aiding a conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States by concealing almost two million dollars in union entertainment expenditures on government disclosure forms. The Havey firm currently audits the books of over 700 unions nationwide, making it the country’s largest union accounting firm.
“Workers like Russell Feld should not be forced to pay dues to an unwanted union, especially when union officials use an accounting firm known for helping to cook the books,” said Gleason. “When union officials and their auditors falsify the minimal information that they must disclose, employees are left completely in the dark about how their hard-earned money is spent.”
The SMW union’s actions violate the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision Communications Workers v. Beck. Under Beck, workers have the right to resign from formal union membership and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union politics.