News Release

Hotel Union Faces Federal Charges for Forcing Nonmember Employees to Fund Lobbying, Strikes

Case emphasizes need for a Right to Work law in the Aloha State

Honolulu, HI (April 27, 2012) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, two Honolulu hotel employees have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the UNITE HERE Local 5 union.

Grant Suzuki and Daryl Sakugawa don’t belong to Local 5 but can still be forced to pay union dues and fees as a condition of employment because Hawaii lacks a Right to Work law. However, the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck holds that nonunion employees cannot be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as political lobbying or members-only activities.

In December 2011, Suzuki and Sakugawa received a breakdown of union financial expenditures from Local 5. According to the union’s books, both employees were forced to contribute to a variety of activities outside the scope of workplace negotiations, including UNITE HERE political lobbying and a union strike fund.

Suzuki has repeatedly clashed with union officials, filing successful unfair labor practice charges in 2008 to force UNITE HERE operatives to return illegally-seized union dues. Suzuki has since been targeted by union officials for harassment because he informed his coworkers of their rights to opt-out of union dues, resign their union membership, and continue working during union-instigated strikes.

The charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency charged with administering private sector labor law.

“They’ve been caught red-handed before, but Local 5 bosses continue to have no qualms about extracting forced dues from nonunion hotel workers to fund their political agenda,” said Patrick Semmens, legal information director for the National Right to Work Foundation. “While we hope the NLRB will promptly return Suzuki and Sakugawa’s dues to their rightful owners, the only permanent solution is a Hawaii Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”

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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