Federal Labor Agency To Challenge Union Policies Requiring Workers To Annually Object to Forced Union Dues for Politics
Washington, DC (June 25, 2003) — After years of legal arguments and public pressure brought by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel has finally agreed to challenge a common union tactic of requiring employees to object every single year if they don’t want union officials to spend their compulsory union dues for political activities.
The union requirement that employees object year after year – rather than once – has dramatically hampered the effect of a well-known U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing that employees cannot be compelled to pay union dues for political and other non-collective bargaining activities.
“Union officials use these annual objection schemes to hamstring and demoralize employees so that their forced-dues money continues to flow into union political coffers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the Foundation. “Though encouraging, the NLRB General Counsel’s decision finally to prosecute this tactic as an unfair labor practice is a merely a small step towards vigorous enforcement of employees’ right to withhold union dues spent for partisan politics.”
The first-ever complaint issued by the General Counsel’s office on this issue came years after two federal courts ruled that such a requirement is illegal. The complaint arises out of unfair labor practice charges filed at the NLRB by Foundation attorneys on behalf of Patrick Quick and four other employees. A former president of Graphic Communication International (GCI) Union Local 735-S, Quick lives in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, and retired recently.
In 1999, Quick notified Local 735-S union officials of his desire to resign his union membership, a right affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Patternmakers v. NLRB. The union maintains a policy that employees must annually renew their objections if they desire a reduction in their forced union dues so that they are only subsidizing collective bargaining activity.
Foundation attorneys contend that this annual objection requirement violates worker protections established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1998 Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case argued and won by Foundation attorneys, non-members cannot be forced to pay for costs unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union political activity.