Right to Work Foundation helps employees challenge national union’s illegal “annual objection” policy
Aberdeen, Maryland (September 21, 2009) – Today, two employees filed a class action federal suit challenging the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union’s nationwide policy requiring employees to object year after year to paying union dues they cannot be lawfully forced to pay.
With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, Jacobs Technology Incorporated employees Rick Gorham and Robert Negosta are challenging the IAM union officials’ scheme intended to thwart non-union members’ legal rights to refrain from paying union dues for union electioneering and other non-bargaining activities. Foundation attorneys filed the complaint in Maryland’s U.S. District Court on behalf of the two employees and all of Jacobs Technology’s other similarly-situated employees.
In the Foundation-won Communication Workers of America v. Beck (1988), the U.S. Supreme Court held that union officials can lawfully compel nonmembers to pay union dues as a job condition, but not the part of dues spent for non-bargaining activities like political activism, lobbying, and member-only events. However, these limited rights have been difficult to enforce, as union officials often concoct illegal schemes such as these “annual objection” policies to burden or thwart employees from exercising their rights.
While the IAM union hierarchy’s annual objection policy should not apply to employees who have refrained from IAM union membership, IAM union officials still illegally require nonmember employees nationwide to file formal objections every year. Additionally, IAM union bosses regularly change the dates for the annual thirty-day window period ostensibly to create additional confusion.
Foundation attorneys won a similar case challenging the IAM’s annual objection policy under the Railway Labor Act in a U.S. District Court in Virginia. The court forced the union to abandon the policy, but the union lawyers are trying to keep the policy in force in all workplaces not governed by that statute. Foundation attorneys are now challenging the policy that applies to employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
“These workers are taking a courageous stand against funding the Machinist union bosses’ radical political agenda and fat-cat lifestyles,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “No worker should be compelled to hand over their hard earned dollars so that IAM union bosses can play politics or take vacations with the union’s $2 million private jet.”