Pittsburgh, PA (December 8, 2009) – A judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of seven Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) employees, maintaining a permanent injunction against the Teamsters union and PTC for seizing forced union dues in violation of the employees’ constitutional rights.
With free legal aid from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation, the seven Turnpike workers filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 against Teamsters Local 250, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), and the PTC. Exercising monopoly bargaining power over PTC employees, Local 250 officials may collect forced union dues from nonmembers – but only for expenses which union officials can prove are spent on collective bargaining.
Last year, the District Court levied a permanent injunction against Local 250 from seizing forced dues from nonmembers until it complies with the due-process and adequate disclosure requirements in the Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association line of U.S. Supreme Court cases. Charges must be verified by an independent auditor, and workers must have the opportunity to challenge the fee’s basis.
Union officials asked U.S. District Court Judge Nora Barry Fischer to lift the injunction, but Fischer found that the union still had not complied with all of the constitutional requirements under Hudson and Lehnert. Specifically, Fischer held that the union’s audit contained overly broad language concerning organizing, lobbying, and membership activities. Fischer also singled out Local 250’s charges to nonmembers for “professional fees,” including 100 percent of all legal expenses – meaning that union bosses were attempting to charge nonmembers the cost of defending its illegal actions against them.
“Pennsylvania should adopt a Right to Work law so independent-minded employees do not have to jump through legal hoop after legal hoop just to find out what they are being charged for,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “In the absence of such a protection, union bosses will continue to try to abuse employees’ rights in their lust for more money and power.”
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, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.