Portland, OR (June 26, 2013) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a local UPS employee has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against Teamsters Local Union No. 81. Steven Swenson alleges that union officials failed to provide him with legally required information about the amount of union dues that he has to pay as a condition of employment. When Swenson refused to pay up until he received proper information, Teamster bosses responded by threatening to suspend him from work.
In Oregon and other states without Right to Work laws, employees can be forced to pay union dues just to keep a job. However, workers have the right to refrain from paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as political activism and members-only events. Union officials are required by law to provide nonmembers with an independently-audited breakdown of union expenditures to help them determine how much they can be forced to pay.
In January 2013, Swenson notified the union that he was resigning his membership and exercising his right to opt out of any dues unrelated to workplace bargaining. In May, Swenson received letters from the union indicating the amount of money he was expected to pay as a nonmember. However, the union never provided Swenson with any information about how they arrived at the fees they were charging him.
When Swenson refused to pay until he received information on the union’s expenditures, Teamster bosses demanded he comply with their forced dues exaction or be suspended from work. Swenson paid under protest what the Teamsters claimed he owed to keep his job.
Swenson’s charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency responsible for administering private sector labor law.
“Teamster bosses failed to provide Steven Swenson with any information about the dues he was being charged. When he refused to pay up until they complied with their legal obligations, they thuggishly threatened his livelihood,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These abusive practices demonstrate the need for an Oregon Right to Work law, which would ensure that nonunion workers don’t have to pay any dues to unions they want nothing to do with.”
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.