Wichita, KS (December 26, 2013) – A first grade teacher at Peterson Elementary School has filed a state charge against a local teacher union for violating her rights under Kansas's long-standing Right to Work law.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Tiffani Knowles filed the state charge last week with the Kansas Department of Labor in Topeka.
On July, 31, 2013, Knowles sent a letter to the United Teachers of Wichita (UTW) union stating that she was exercising her right under the state's Right to Work law to refrain from full union membership and dues payments. Under Kansas's Right to Work law, union officials must respect workers' right to refrain from the payment of any union dues.
Because the union did not receive the letter before August 1, UTW union officials told her that she would have to wait for a union-designated "window period" of July 1, 2014 through July 31, 2014 before she could resign union membership even though UTW's own constitution states "Members may resign by sending written notice to the United Teachers of Wichita office prior to August 1."
Knowles points out in her charge that Kansas's Right to Work law protects her unequivocal right to refrain from union membership at any time. Analogously, federal labor law also protects workers' absolute right to refrain from union membership at any time without penalty.
Knowles is asking the Kansas Department of Labor to order the UTW union to accept her union membership resignation and either strike down the UTW's provisions prohibiting workers from freely exercising their Right to Work or require the UTW to accept resignations sent in compliance with its own constitution.
"Union officials are violating their own rules in order to keep this teacher from exercising her right to refrain from union membership and dues payments," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Because state and federal law protect workers' right to unconditionally refrain from union membership at any time, we call on the Kansas Department of Labor to hold this union's scheme invalid.