Right to Work Foundation attorneys challenge union hierarchy for violating employees’ constitutional rights
Kansas City, MO (March 27, 2013) – Seventeen Missouri police officers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against a local police union, the Board of Police Commissions of Kansas City, and the mayor of Kansas City for violating their rights.
The 17 officers filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
In October of 2012, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 99 union officials agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit between the union and the city in which union officials made concessions on police officers' wages, benefits, and retirement age in exchange for the power to force nonmember police officers into paying forced union dues and fees as a condition of their employment.
The 17 officers, who all refrain from formal union membership in the FOP Lodge 99 union, allege that the union hierarchy violated its duty of fair representation and acted in bad faith by selling out Kansas City's police officers in exchange for the forced dues powers.
Further, the 17 nonmember officers allege in their suit that the FOP Lodge 99 union hierarchy is violating their constitutional rights by demanding forced union dues and fees from them without following federal disclosure requirements.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation's Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson case that union officials must first provide nonmember public workers with an independently-audited breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures and the opportunity to object and challenge the amount of forced union fees before an impartial decision maker. This minimal safeguard is designed to ensure that workers have an opportunity to refrain from paying for union political activities and member-only events.
In February, FOP Lodge 99 union officials began demanding forced union dues and fees from nonmember police officers while refusing to provide an audited breakdown of union expenditures or giving the officers an opportunity to challenge the forced union fees before an independent third party.
"Because Missouri does not have a Right to Work law, these Kansas City police officers can be compelled to pay union dues and fees to a union hierarchy that clearly does not have the officers’ best interests at heart," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores why Missouri needs a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."