News Release

Federal Government to Prosecute UNITE HERE! Local for Illegal Union Dues Seizures

Hotel union officials violated federal labor law by failing to disclose union expenditures and forcing nonunion workers to pay for activities unrelated to collective bargaining

Honolulu, Hawaii (October 6, 2008) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has decided to prosecute the UNITE HERE! Local 5 union in response to charges filed by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys for two hotel industry workers.

Brenda Lee Orr, a nonunion employee of Turtle Bay Resort, alleges that union officials compelled her to pay dues for national organizing activities and a strike expense fund as a condition of employment. Grant Suzuki, a nonunion employee of Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, also alleges that UNITE HERE! Local 5 forced him to pay dues for national organizing and that union officials refused to provide him with a financial breakdown of union expenditures mandated by federal law. Government prosecutors determined that the union’s conduct violated employees’ rights, and will try the case before an administrative law judge.

Union officials can force nonmember employees to fund certain activities, but the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck holds that union officials may not charge nonunion workers for activities unrelated to collective bargaining. The Foundation-won Supreme Court decision Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson also requires union officials to provide nonmember employees with an audited financial breakdown of union expenditures.

Although both employees refused formal union membership, UNITE HERE! bosses compelled Orr and Suzuki to fund organizing activities far removed from their places of employment. Union officials also forced Orr to pay into a general strike fund intended to support strikes across the country.

When Suzuki requested a financial breakdown of union expenditures to determine what mandatory fees he owed, union officials violated federal labor law by refusing to comply.

“Workers shouldn’t have to navigate a complex web of union rules and federal regulations to opt out of funding union activities,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The ultimate solution is for Hawaii to adopt a Right to Work law ensuring union membership and dues payment are completely voluntary.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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