Hilton Employee Hits Recalcitrant Union with Federal Charges for Continued Misuse of Forced Union Dues
**Honolulu, HI (May 1, 2007)** – With help from attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Grant Suzuki, an employee at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel, filed federal charges after union officials failed to provide proper financial expenditures disclosure – an employee’s right to safeguard his forced union dues against political use.
Suzuki, an electrician for Hilton (NYSE: HLT), sent his annual objection to the collection of his forced dues for politics to UNITE-HERE union officials in November 2006. In his letter, Suzuki also reiterated his request for a legally mandated financial disclosure of the union’s expenditures. Because union officials never responded to Suzuki’s request and failed to produce any financial records disclosing the use of his forced dues, Foundation attorneys filed unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“In states like Hawaii were there is no Right to Work law making union affiliation strictly voluntary, union officials expect employees to shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “UNITE-HERE union officials are undermining the rights of the very employees they claim to represent.”
In the Foundation-won *Communications Workers v. Beck* case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employees are entitled to resign from formal union membership and cannot be forced to pay for costs unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union political activity or organizing. The precedent also requires union officials to provide employees with verified financial disclosure of union expenditures, so that employees can intelligently decide to cut off the seizure of their forced union dues for such activities.
Hilton employees who have refrained from formal union membership have been subject to the UNITE-HERE union officials’ monopoly bargaining agreement in the past, which included a compulsory unionism clause requiring the employees to pay into strike funds for strikes in unrelated industries. After Suzuki filed unfair labor practice charges in 2006 for his coworkers, the NLRB agreed to prosecute UNITE-HERE union officials for violating workers’ rights.
In July 2006, Suzuki’s charge forced UNITE-HERE union officials to ink a settlement agreement that prohibited the use of employees’ forced union dues for strikes outside the immediate geographical area. Suzuki also forced UNITE-HERE union officials to post notices in the hotel notifying workers of their legal rights, and to create a separate fund from nonmembers to be used only on strikes in hotel bargaining units in Hawaii. Today, Suzuki is still appealing that settlement to end the collection of all forced dues for strikes, regardless of location.