Film crew union officials illegally refuse to disclose expenditures of politically-active affiliates
Los Angeles, California (July 2, 2008) – Federal labor prosecutors in Los Angeles have issued a class-action complaint against union officials for failing to provide Paramount Classics film crew members with proper financial disclosure of their forced union dues.
In July 2006, with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Mary Jasionowski filed an unfair labor practice charge on behalf of similarly situated employees with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Script Supervisors/Continuity & Allied Production Specialists Guild, Local 871. The NLRB Regional Director has agreed with Jasionowski’s charges and will prosecute the case before an administrative law judge in Los Angeles.
Though not a union member, Jasionowski is forced to pay union fees as a condition of her employment. However, she exercised her limited right to object to the collection of forced dues spent for any purposes other than collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance administration. In the Foundation-won Communication Workers of America v. Beck (1988) decision, the United States Supreme Court held that private-sector employees may be compelled to pay certain union dues, but may withhold the portion of union fees which funds activities like union politics, lobbying, and member-only events.
Under legal precedents won by Foundation attorneys, all non-union members must be provided with a statement breaking down the union’s expenditures, verified by an independent auditor. Additionally, a nonmember may challenge the amount of the fee imposed by union officials.
In late May 2006, Jasionowski notified Local 871 – an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IASTE) – that she objected to the payment of forced fees for non-bargaining activities. Union officials, however, failed to provide an adequate breakdown of the union’s expenditures, particularly payments to IASTE and other union affiliates that are also involved in political and other non-bargaining activity.
“Perhaps more than in any other profession, union officials in the entertainment business seem to think they are above the law,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Mary Jasionowski – or any other employee – should not be forced to support the political agenda of a union she never wanted to ‘represent’ her in the first place.”