BALTIMORE, Md. (August 6, 2001) – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union and Verizon Communications face a federal prosecution for illegally seizing approximately $150,000 in forced union dues from employees following last year’s strike.
Agreeing with arguments presented by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued the federal complaint after Verizon employees Kenneth Olszewski and Nancy Simms filed unfair labor practice charges on behalf of thousands of their fellow employees last year.
“Thanks to these vigilant employees, CWA union officials will pay a price for systematically violating worker rights,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
The employees filed the charges after Verizon helped CWA union officials seize dues from employees for a one month period (September 1-25, 2001) following the strike in which no collective bargaining contract was in place. When no such forced-fee agreement is in effect, union officials cannot compel the payment of any dues from workers who exercise their right not to join a union.
The Foundation estimates that union officials illegally seized a total of $150,000 from approximately 3,000 Verizon employees who chose to refrain from union membership, or about $50 per employee. Foundation attorneys are demanding that all illegally collected union fees be returned to the employees, with interest. In its complaint, the NLRB also seeks to force union officials to post notices to Verizon employees informing them of their rights and the union’s violation of those rights.
Foundation attorneys also persuaded the NLRB to issue a complaint against Verizon itself. According to the Board’s complaint, “Verizon has provided illegal assistance and support to the union” by sending union officials illegally demanded union dues, seized from employees through paycheck deductions. A hearing in Baltimore before an administrative law judge, who will determine appropriate damages to be awarded to the employees and appropriate remedies for the union’s and Verizon’s violations, has been scheduled for fall 2001.
In 1997, the same union was prosecuted by the NLRB for the same scheme during a hiatus of a collective bargaining contract with Bell Atlantic (which later became Verizon).
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.