Nonmember employees forced to pay fees to Longshoreman union bosses vow appeal to state supreme court
Atlanta, GA (February 4, 2009) – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys announced they will appeal last week’s stunning ruling by the Court of Appeals of Georgia that despite Georgia’s longstanding and popular Right to Work law, a local union may force nonmembers to pay for the privilege to work.
Georgia is one of 22 states with Right to Work protections which ensure that no worker can be forced to join or pay dues to a union in order to get or keep a job. The state law unambiguously states that “[n]o individual shall be required as a condition of employment or continuance of employment to pay any fee, assessment, or other sum of money whatsoever to a labor organization.”
Nonetheless, the Georgia Court of Appeals, affirming a lower court ruling, held that the International Longshoreman Association Local 1414 union may legally force nonmembers to pay a referral fee to the union on jobs obtained at a union hiring hall between June 2005 and September 2006. The controversial contract between the union and the Georgia Stevedores Association requires that all employees be hired through the union hiring hall. The union forces all nonmembers to pay referral fees as a condition of employment.
Attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation are providing free legal aid to eleven nonmember employees who perform longshoremen work at the port of Savannah. Local 1414 union bosses have demanded the employees turn over approximately $1.33 each per hour worked.
The ruling took a position that the Georgia Right to Work law does not apply to a hiring hall scenario, and federal labor law does not permit states to prohibit unions from forcing workers to pay monies to an exclusive union hiring hall. However, Foundation attorneys argue that the Right to Work law unambiguously prohibits any mandate on employees to pay a union for the privilege to work, and state Right to Work laws cannot be preempted by federal law in this regard.
“Despite the clarity of Georgia’s popular Right to Work law, this court has concluded that the Right to Work law does not mean what it says,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We are confident this ruling will be overturned.”
“This case shows you that even in Right to Work states, union tyrants will trick, lie, and steal their way into workers’ wallets,” continued Gleason.
Foundation attorneys are preparing a petition for certiorari to the Georgia Supreme Court.