News Release

Air Traffic Controller Union Officials Forced to Respect Rights of Nonunion Employees

Under federal settlement, union officials must inform nonmember employees of their right to retroactively object to forced union dues and obtain refunds

Harrisburg, PA (December 29, 2008) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, four air traffic controllers have forced National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) union officials to halt their illegal forced union dues extraction methods.

The settlement is a result of unfair labor practice charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by Foundation attorneys for the four controllers in September 2008. The unfair labor practice charges challenged the union officials’ confiscatory scheme of forcing nonmember employees to support financially union activities unrelated to collective bargaining, as well as their refusal to provide a legally required independent financial audit of forced-dues union expenditures. The charges also challenged the union hierarchy’s policy that forced nonunion employees to object annually to full, forced-dues paying union membership.

Finalized today, the settlement requires union officials to post public notices informing affected controllers of their right to refrain from formal, full dues-paying membership. The notice also rescinds the union’s onerous annual objection policy – a policy that requires nonunion members annually to inform union officials of their decision not to pay for union activities unrelated to collective bargaining – and commits union officials to providing employees with an audited financial breakdown of all organizational expenditures. The union hierarchy has also agreed to allow nonunion workers to challenge retroactively dues payments unrelated to workplace representation.

Under the Foundation-won precedent established in the Supreme Court case Communications Workers v. Beck, all private sector employees are entitled to refrain from formal, full dues-paying union membership. The Foundation’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson Supreme Court victory also requires unions to provide employees with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures. The financial breakdown originally provided by NATCA officials was vague and did not include an independent audit.

“NATCA union officials kept the rank-and-file in the dark to keep the union’s forced dues gravy train going.” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Although we applaud the NLRB for reaching an equitable settlement, this type of abuse will remain all too common until Pennsylvania enacts a Right to Work law. Making union membership and dues payment completely voluntary is the only way to make union officials accountable.”

The NATCA union is an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Airport sites where NATCA officials enjoy monopoly bargaining privileges over private sector air traffic controllers include Bridgeport, Connecticut; Alton, Illinois; Marion, Illinois; Barnes, Massachusetts; Hyannis, Massachusetts; Worchester, Massachusetts; Middle River, Maryland; Lebanon Tower, New Hampshire; Ithaca, New York; Stewart, New York; Latrobe, Pennsylvania; Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Mosinee, Wisconsin.

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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