Nonunion Corrections Officers File Suit against Governor, Teamsters Union over Illegal Forced Dues
Lawsuit challenges forced union dues for Washington State public employees and union failure to provide disclosures mandated by U.S. Supreme Court
Tacoma, WA (June 15, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys and the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation, one retired and four current Washington State correctional officers have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Governor Jay Inslee, two high-ranking state Department of Corrections officials, and the Teamsters Local 117 union. The lawsuit challenges Teamster policies that discourage nonunion correctional officers from opting out of paying full union dues.
Gabriel Forest, Arthur Henderson, Joshua Lenss, and William McLaughlin are currently employed as correctional officers at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center. A fifth plaintiff, Michael Wageblast, retired from the State Department of Corrections in February 2015. All five plaintiffs have exercised their right to resign from the union. However, Teamsters Local 117 officials are empowered by state statute to collect dues and negotiate wages and working conditions for all employees within the plaintiffs’ bargaining unit, including nonmembers.
Teamsters Local 117 officials violated nonunion correctional officers’ rights by failing to provide them with adequate information about the union’s expenditures and sufficient opportunity to opt out of paying full union dues. Under the National Right to Work Foundation-won Hudson Supreme Court precedent, nonunion civil servants are entitled to information about union expenditures and a chance to refrain from paying union dues for anything unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as political activism.