News Release

FirstEnergy Worker Wins Federal Settlement from Local Electrical Worker Union

Union officials threatened worker to join union or lose her job

Reading, PA (December 5, 2013) – A FirstEnergy Corp. worker has won a federal settlement from a local union after she filed a charge against the union with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

The settlement comes after Deborah Adie of Orwigsburg filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In the charge, Adie stated that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 777 union officials demanded she join the union or she would lose her job.

Under federal law, no worker can be forced to formally join a labor union. However, because Pennsylvania is not a Right to Work state, workers can be forced, as a condition of employment, to pay certain union fees to keep their job. IBEW Local 777 union officials never informed Adie of her right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership, a right upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Right to Work Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck case.

In mid-March, Adie wrote a letter to the union hierarchy in which she resigned her union membership and objected to paying full union dues. Despite her request, union officials refused to acknowledge her resignation, and they continued to collect full union dues from her paychecks.

In April, Adie was told by a union official that instead of her March resignation letter, she needed to fill out a union form in order to resign her membership. Because she failed to turn in the specific union form, she was notified that the union would not recognize her March resignation letter and would continue to take full union dues from her paychecks.

Under the terms of the settlement, union officials are required to return all illegally-seized union fees taken from Adie's paycheck and to post a notice in the workplace notifying workers of their right to refrain from formal, full-dues-paying union membership.

"No worker should ever be forced to join or pay dues to an unwanted union just to get or keep a job," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores why Pennsylvania needs to pass a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary."

Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.

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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