Annual “opt-out” scheme forces nonmember employees to pay full union dues
New York, NY (November 2, 2009) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, a local employee has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the Newspaper Guild of New York Local 3 Union.
Jeremy Rosenbaum, a financial analyst at Standard & Poor’s, is not a union member and had previously exercised his right to opt-out of certain union dues. In July of 2009, Rosenbaum discovered that union officials arbitrarily stripped him of his objector status, forcing him to pay full dues.
Although employees can be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision Communication Workers v. Beck guarantees the right of workers to opt-out of dues intended for purposes other than union bargaining, including lobbying, political activism, and members-only activities.
However, local union bosses maintain a controversial policy that requires employees to annually renew their objection to paying forced union dues unrelated to bargaining. If an employee fails to register an objection within a window period designated by union officials, they are automatically re-enrolled as full dues-payers.
In response, Rosenbaum filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), seeking union recognition of his right to opt-out of dues for ideological activities and a rescission of the union’s annual objection policy. The charges will now be investigated by NLRB officials. Several courts and NLRB administrative law judges have ruled similar policies unlawful.
“We intend to make the union hierarchy pay for their violations of employee rights,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, the best way to protect all workers from similar mistreatment would be for New York to adopt a Right to Work law, making the payment of union dues purely voluntary.”