16 Year-Old Girl Hits Union Officials with Federal Charges After Illegal Threats Against Her Albertsons Job
**San Diego, CA (August 7, 2007)** – A local employee of Albertsons, Inc. filed federal charges against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135 union after union officials unlawfully demanded she be fired from her job unless she joined the union and paid full dues.
Sixteen year-old high-school student, Danielle Cookson, a front courtesy clerk for the grocery giant, obtained free legal assistance from attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The federal charges highlight that UFCW Local 135 union officials are failing to respect employees legal rights and requiring them to join and pay dues to the union as a job condition.
In late July, UFCW Local 135 union officials sent a “termination notification” letter to Albertsons requesting Cookson be fired from her position. In their demand, union officials ordered Cookson to pay the forced dues within seven days of the notification, or else she would be removed from the schedule and terminated.
Since she began working at Albertsons in May, union officials have attempted to seize forced dues from Cookson’s paycheck. However, Cookson was never informed of her right to refrain from formal union membership or given proper financial notice of how her forced dues would be spent, as required by Foundation-won court decisions.
“In their lust for compulsory union dues, union officials will even bully children who are working to save money for their future. But they made a big mistake trying to push Danielle around,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This abuse is all too common in California because there is no Right to Work law to ensure that payment of union dues is strictly voluntary.”
In the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision *Communications Workers v. Beck*, the Court affirmed that 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. Unfortunately, they can still be forced to pay for bargaining expenses, even if they do not want union “representation.” However, employees have the right to have an independent third party audit the union expenditures and certify that the percentage of dues that non-members are forced to pay does not include political spending and other non-collective bargaining expenses.
Despite Cookson’s formal objections, the union hierarchy failed to provide her with an independently audited breakdown of union expenditures, as required by law. The NLRB’s Regional Office will now investigate the charges and decide whether to issue a formal complaint and prosecute the union.
“The attempts by union officials to run roughshod over workers’ rights show the inevitable greed and corruption that flow from forced unionism,” said Gleason.