Worker has challenged union’s dues deductions in federal court as violating federal law and Wisconsin’s Right to Work law; Attorney General Kaul has refused to defend Wisconsin law
Burlington, WI (December 2, 2019) – Wisconsin-based Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) employee Martin Carter filed federal charges against United Steelworkers (USW) union bosses at his plant for refusing to respond to his membership resignation and request to cut off union dues, and for maintaining a dues deduction policy which violates federal labor law. The charges were filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
Carter submitted to USW officials his union membership resignation and request to end union dues deductions from his paycheck late last year. His new amended charge asserts that, for a year now, USW union bosses have refused to accept his resignation, and have never informed him of the time period in which they would accept the revocation of his dues checkoff authorization. The charge states that all of these actions are violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Carter’s charge also maintains that the dues checkoff authorization policy USW officials enforced itself violates the NLRA by limiting when an employee can cut off dues deductions to just a short period after the expiration of a monopoly bargaining contract, rather than at any time after a contract expires.
USW officials’ dues policy is already the subject of a lawsuit for Carter pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, also filed by Foundation staff attorneys. That lawsuit argues that the union’s dues checkoff rules not only violate federal law, but also Wisconsin’s Right to Work law, by not permitting employees to stop dues deductions at any time with a 30-day notice.
The part of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law that allows employees to stop dues deductions with 30 days’ notice is currently in jeopardy, following Wisconsin Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul’s refusal to defend it. In July, Kaul withdrew the state’s petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower federal court’s divided ruling that the provision was preempted by federal law. Carter’s lawsuit brings this issue back to federal court, potentially giving the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to weigh in on the issue.
Kaul’s capitulation belies the promise he made while he was campaigning to be the Badger State’s top lawyer in 2018 that he would defend all state laws, even those that were passed on the watch of former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. Public records show that union affiliates were the seven largest contributors to Kaul’s campaign, pitching in over $400,000.
“If Attorney General Kaul were doing his job and defending the laws of Wisconsin, rank-and-file employees like Mr. Carter would not have to file federal charges at the NLRB to challenge illegal dues deduction schemes,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union bosses must not be allowed to block the exercise of rights guaranteed to workers under Wisconsin’s popular Right to Work law.”
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.