News Release

Public Employee Union Officials Sued for Forcing Employees to Stay in Union Ranks

Union bosses’ illegal scheme violates employees’ constitutional rights

Harrisburg, PA (February 9, 2009) – Three Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) employees filed a federal suit challenging two Pennsylvania laws that unconstitutionally prohibit workers from leaving union ranks.

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, providing CATA employees Brenda Hall, Karen Ilgen, and Martha Hoy with free legal aid, filed the suit today in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Union officials rebuffed the employees’ repeated requests to resign from formal union membership in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) local affiliate 1203B and District Council 83 unions.

Local 1203B and District Council 83 union officials are using the Pennsylvania Public Employee Forced Unionism Law and the Public Employee Relations Act as justification to compel the employees into continuing formal union membership and require the CATA illegally to extract full union dues from the employees.

As well as challenging the state law, the employees are suing for their right to retroactively object to formal union membership and obtain refunds. The employees are backed by decades of case law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

As a result of the National Right to Work Foundation’s precedent-setting case Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public employees can be forced to pay some union dues, but cannot be compelled to pay for politics and other union dues beyond the cost of collective bargaining. Abood thus also established that full union membership cannot constitutionally be required as a condition of employment. The Foundation’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson Supreme Court victory requires union officials to provide employees with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures. Local 1203B or District 83 union officials did not provide such a breakdown.

“These union bosses know full well what the law requires of them, but they have deliberately kept rank-and-file workers in the dark to keep the forced-dues gravy train going,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

“Pennsylvania needs a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payment completely voluntary,” added Gleason.

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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