Relying on landmark Knox Supreme Court decision, workers seek to roll back union boss power to collect forced dues
Dallas, TX (June 27, 2013) – Six airline workers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit that seeks to expand workers' right to refrain from paying union dues in light of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Knox v. SEIU Local 1000.
Five American Eagle Airlines baggage handlers from Texas and a Southwest Airlines flight attendant from Maryland filed the lawsuit with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas.
The workers all are not members of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWUA). However, the workers must still accept the TWUA hierarchy as their monopoly bargaining representative even though they are prohibited from voting on the union's bargaining agreement or participating in union meetings. Additionally, federal labor law empowers union officials to extract union dues and fees from the workers as payment for their so-called "representation." If the workers refused to pay union dues or fees, they would be terminated from their jobs.
Last year, the Supreme Court suggested in its Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU ruling that it was ready to reassess whether union bosses' forced dues powers, which it called "something of an anomaly," violate workers' First Amendment rights. Responding to that suggestion, the workers' lawsuit seeks to eliminate forced unionism in America.
Relying on landmark Knox Supreme Court decision, Troopers seek to end automatic dues deduction for politics from non-member state employees
Anchorage, AK (January 8, 2013) – Five Alaska State Troopers have filed the first federal lawsuit that seeks to expand public employees’ right to refrain from paying union dues used for union politics in light of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Knox v. SEIU.
Robin Benning, Patrick Johnson, Andrew Neason, Chris Terry, and Ken VanSpronsen filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska in Anchorage with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
The troopers refrain from formal union membership in the Public Safety Employees Association (PSEA) union, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 803. Because they are not formal union members, the troopers have a right not to pay the part of union dues used for union politics, lobbying, and member-only events.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU decision that California state employees who refrain from formal union membership could not be compelled to pay for union politicking via a "special assessment" for a self-described "political fight back fund." The Court's majority ruled for the first time that union officials must obtain affirmative consent from workers before using workers' forced union fees for union politicking.
The Alaskan troopers are seeking to expand that decision to apply to all instances when public employees refrain from union membership.
Union bosses seek to protect power to discriminate against nonunion workers
Boise, ID (June 27, 2012) – Staff attorneys from the nation's premier advocate for workers who suffer from the abuses of compulsory unionism have filed an amicus curie brief in support of an Idaho law prohibiting state and local government agencies from imposing so-called project labor agreements (PLAs) that require unionized workers for public projects.
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed the brief today in federal appeals court.
The "Open Access to Work Act" prohibits Idaho and all state governmental units from entering into taxpayer-funded contracts that require union-only workers.
Two building and construction unions challenged the law in U.S. District Court. The lower court's decision regarding the matter is now being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Like The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Examiner also noted the landmark implications of the Foundation's latest Supreme Court victory. Here's the crux of their editorial on the Knox case:
The 7-2 majority -- which included a concurrence by liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- agreed that the union had acted illegally. But the sharpest cut comes from the court's narrower 5-4 majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito. It held that for unions to deduct special political contributions from nonmembers' paychecks -- as occurred in this case -- those workers must explicitly opt in, as opposed to having to opt out. Otherwise, as in this case, the union will at best receive a free loan for political activity at nonunion employees' expense. At worst, employees burdened with the normal concerns of life may well forget to claim their full rights, and the unions' political activities will thrive by default at their expense.
"Public-sector unions have the right under the First Amendment to express their views on political and social issues without government interference," Alito wrote. "But employees who choose not to join a union have the same rights." It should come as little surprise that nonunion workers do not want to contribute to union political initiatives, especially ones that attack nonunion workers' rights.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an illegal Service Employees International Union (SEIU) political fee charged to California state workers without notice and opportunity to opt out.
And now for the first time, the Court is requiring union officials to obtain affirmative consent from workers before they increase union dues and fees or slap workers with "special assessments" for union boss political spending.
Not only is this Foundation victory a victory for the First Amendment principles of free speech and free association, but Justice Samuel Alito acknowledged the tension the Court has created by allowing Big Labor to get away with so much for so long.
The very fact that a five-member majority of the U.S. Supreme Court openly questioned Big Labor's incredible power to force workers info forced-dues payments suggests Big Labor has overplayed its hand and the Court may be willing to hear more cases to reconsider some of its pro-Big Labor precedents and possibly even freeing workers from the shackles of forced unionism. Via the Wall Street Journal:
Writing for a five-member majority, however, Justice Samuel Alito raises larger questions about compulsory union dues and individual rights. Shouldn't the people who choose not to join a union, he asks, have to opt into political and ideological activities that they may presumably dispute—rather than opt out? "Which side should bear the risk?" he continues. "The answer is obvious: the side whose constitutional rights are not at stake."
Thus Knox may provide an opening to revisit some of the Court's precedents that force people to subsidize political views or escapades contrary to their values—not to mention the First Amendment. Stay tuned.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys close union boss political fundraising loophole, winning again at U.S. Supreme Court
Washington, DC (June 21, 2012) - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 today, siding with nonmember California state employees challenging a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) political fee charged to them without notice and opportunity to opt out.
The case concludes a prolonged legal challenge affecting some 36,000 California government employees initiated by eight California civil servants who filed a class-action lawsuit with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
In 2005, SEIU officials imposed a "special assessment" to raise money from all state employees forced to accept union representation as a job condition for a union political fund, regardless of their membership status. The fund was used to defeat four ballot proposals, including one that would have revoked public employee unions' special privilege of using forced fees for politics unless an employee consents. Employees who refrained from union membership were given no chance to opt out of paying the SEIU's political assessment.
Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work, issued the following statement regarding today's ruling:
"Today, the United States Supreme Court upheld workers' First Amendment rights and struck down another union boss scheme to confiscate and spend state workers' hard earned money for politics without their permission."