Illegal Forced Dues and Money for Politics 

News Release

National Right to Work Foundation Responds to Dane County Circuit Court’s Ruling against Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law

Questionable local court ruling threatens popular Right to Work law that protects Wisconsin employees from mandatory union dues

Dane County, WI (April 8, 2016) – Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, issued the following statement regarding the Dane County Circuit Court’s ruling against Wisconsin’s recently-enacted Right to Work law:

“Right to Work laws have been passed by 26 states and have been repeatedly upheld in state and federal court. However, that didn’t stop a lone Dane County Circuit Court judge from ruling against Wisconsin’s Right to Work law on extremely questionable grounds. According to the Court’s dubious reasoning, the State of Wisconsin cannot protect employees from union bosses who threaten to have them fired for refusing to pay dues or fees to a union they don’t support.

“This isn’t the first time a Dane County Circuit Court judge has overreached. Another judge previously struck down Governor Scott Walker’s Act 10 public-sector union reforms, a decision that was decisively reversed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

“Contrary to the union’s misrepresentations which the judge disingenuously accepted, it is union bosses who choose to exercise monopoly control over all workers, including those who oppose the union and who feel they would be better off without union officials’ imposed ‘representation.’ Without Right to Work protections, the injustice that workers face by having an unwanted union imposed on them against their will is compounded by the injustice of being forced to pay a portion of their hard-earned paychecks to union officials they oppose.

“Fortunately for Wisconsin workers, this Dane County judge’s ruling is not the final word on the matter. An appeal of this decision is certain, and we are confident that Wisconsin’s Right to Work law will ultimately be upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”

Staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation along with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty represented pro-Right to Work Wisconsin employees in the case by filing an amicus brief. In addition veteran Foundation staff attorney Milton Chappell participated in in the oral argument to represent the employees seeking to defend the Right to Work law. Foundation staff attorneys are also representing Wisconsin employees in enforcing the law. Both the U.S. Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court recently rejected the same arguments made by the unions in this case.

Wisconsin employees seeking assistance in exercising their rights under Wisconsin’s Right to Work protections can contact the Foundation for free legal aid by calling 1-800-336-3600 or by going to www.nrtw.org.

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Wisconsin Employees Hit Union Officials with Charges for Blocking their Attempts to Leave Union, Stop Paying Dues

IAM officials ignored employees’ resignation requests when they tried to exercise their rights under Wisconsin’s Right to Work law

Sparta, WI (March 24, 2016) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, two Northern Engraving Corporation employees have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against their employer and the International Association of Machinists Lodge No. 1771 (IAM) union. According to charges filed by Sharon Kirchner and Julie Anderson, union and company officials violated federal law by ignoring their attempts to resign from the union and stop paying union dues.

Under Wisconsin’s recently-enacted Right to Work law, no employee can be forced to join or pay dues to a union to keep a job. Although Kirchner and Anderson previously belonged to the IAM, they both sent letters to their employer and the union within the past six months announcing their decision to resign and stop paying dues.

Not only did union officials fail to respond to Kirchner and Anderson’s resignation letters, they also ignored similar requests from other Northern Engraving employees. To this date, Northern Engraving continues to deduct – and IAM officials continue to collect – full union dues from Kirchner and Anderson’s paychecks.

The employees’ charges will now be investigated by Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency responsible for administering private sector labor law.

“The passage of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law was a significant victory for employee rights,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, Wisconsin workers will only benefit if their rights to refrain from union membership and the payment of union dues are vigorously enforced. That’s why we stepped in to take this case.”

“Any other Wisconsin employee who faces obstructionist tactics when attempting to exercise his or her right to leave a union and stop paying union dues should contact the National Right to Work Foundation immediately for free legal assistance,” added Semmens.

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

NIH Parking Attendants File Charges against Union for Forcing Them to Join, Pay Union Dues

Union and parking contractor collaborated to foist unwanted union “representation” on employees

Bethesda, MD (March 8, 2016) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, 14 National Institute of Health (NIH) parking attendants have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against a federal contractor and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union for violating their workplace rights. According to the charges, union and company officials coerced employees at the Bethesda NIH facility into acceding to unionization and then demanded they all pay full union dues to keep their jobs.

In October 2015, Penn Parking replaced Colonial Parking as the parking contractor at the Bethesda NIH campus. Penn officials then told the employees, many of whom had worked for NIH for years, that they could only keep their jobs if they signed union membership and dues deduction cards. Although these were signed under duress, union officials used the cards to begin collecting full dues from these employees.

Not only did UFCW officials bypass the proper legal procedures that determine whether a group of employees unionize, they also violated federal labor law by telling the employees that they must become dues-paying union members to keep their jobs. Union officials and employers are legally prohibited from requiring anyone to formally join a union as a condition of employment.

The NIH later determined that Penn Parking was wrongly given the contract, and the company is now in the process of being replaced by another contractor. However, union officials insist that they continue to “represent” the parking attendants, despite the fact that these employees were coerced into joining the union in the first place.

The charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency that administers private sector labor law.

“These employees were forced to join and pay dues to a union they had no interest in supporting,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “That’s outrageous, which is why Foundation staff attorneys intervened to defend their workplace rights.”

“Aside from highlighting the union’s coercive organizing tactics, this episode also demonstrates the need for a Maryland Right to Work law, which would protect employees from being forced to pay any union dues at all to keep a job,” added Semmens.

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Local TV Employees Hit Union Officials with Federal Charges for Demanding $2,700 Initiation Fee

Union officials violated employees’ rights by threatening to have them fired if they didn’t pay full union dues and a hefty union initiation fee

Portland, OR (March 7, 2016) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, three KOIN TV employees have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the NABET-CWA Local 51 union. The employees charge that union officials failed to inform them of their right not to formally join the union, billed them for full union dues, and demanded they pay a $2,700 “union initiation fee” or be fired from their jobs.

Hannah Button, Peter Marshall, and Lacey Hamerin all began working at KOIN TV in late 2014 and early 2015. Because Oregon lacks a Right to Work law, nonunion employees can be required to pay union fees as a condition of employment. However, these employees cannot be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as union politics. They are also entitled to information about union finances to help them determine what they are obligated to pay.

In all three cases, union officials blatantly ignored these longstanding protections. When Hannah Button joined KOIN TV in January 2015, union officials failed to inform her of her right to refrain from paying full union dues. In July 2015, Button sent the union a letter announcing her decision to resign and reduce her dues payments. Union officials failed to respond to Button until February 2016, when they told her that she would still be charged for full union dues for the period before she submitted her resignation letter, despite the fact that she was never informed of her right to resign and reduce her dues payments in the first place.

Union officials also claimed that Button still had to pay a full “union initiation fee” of $2,700, and that the total amount she owed was over $3,000. Further, if she did not pay the entire amount within 17 days, the union would have her fired.

Marshall and Hamerin faced similar demands from union officials when they attempted to resign and reduce their dues payments. All three employees were never informed of their workplace rights and received no information from union officials about how the forced dues they supposedly owe were calculated. Like Button, Marshall and Hamerin were also told that they would lose their jobs if they failed to promptly pay thousands of dollars in union dues and initiation fees.

Button, Marshall, and Hamerin’s charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.

“Union officials will go to great lengths to extract as much cash as possible from nonunion employees,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Although Local 51 officials’ outrageous demands clearly violate federal law, Oregon law enables this type of abuse by empowering union officials to require nonunion workers to pay some union fees as a condition of employment.”

“Oregon should rectify this unjust arrangement and curb future abuses by passing a Right to Work law, which would make all union dues strictly voluntary,” added Semmens.

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

National Right to Work Foundation Attorney Defends Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law in Court

IAM lawsuit seeks to overturn labor reform that freed Wisconsin workers from being forced to pay union dues to keep a job

Dane County, WI (February 25, 2016) – Today, veteran National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney Milton Chappell will defend Wisconsin’s Right to Work law in Dane County Circuit Court against a lawsuit filed by International Association of Machinist (IAM) union lawyers. Chappell represents four Wisconsin employees who believe they should not be forced to pay union dues to keep a job. The motion to file an amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) brief was submitted by attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

Randy Darty, Tod Momberg, Daniel Sarauer, and Daniel Zastrow are all nonunion employees who work in unionized workplaces. All four wish to safeguard their right to refrain from paying dues to unions to which they don’t belong. Prior to enactment of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law, nonunion private-sector employees could be forced to pay union dues to keep a job.

The National Right to Work Foundation has a long history of successfully defending Right to Work laws in state and federal court, most recently in Indiana and Michigan. Foundation attorneys also provided free legal assistance to several Wisconsin civil servants who sought to refrain from paying union dues or fees under Governor Scott Walker's 2011 public-sector labor reforms.

After Wisconsin’s Right to Work law went into effect on March 11, 2015, the National Right to Work Foundation announced an offer of free legal aid to any employees seeking to assert their rights under the new law. The Foundation also created a special task force to defend the Wisconsin law in court from any union legal challenges.

“We are proud to defend Wisconsin’s Right to Work law for the hundreds of thousands of Badger State workers who can no longer be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Our staff attorneys have a great deal of experience defending state Right to Work laws, and we are confident that this latest union legal gambit will not succeed in undermining Wisconsin employees’ newly-enshrined workplace freedoms.”

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

State Commission Affirms Employees’ Rights to Leave Unions, Stop Paying Dues for Politics at Any Time

Decisions struck down union “window period” policies that restricted employees’ rights to leave unions, opt out of dues

Detroit, MI (January 22, 2016) – In two recent cases, the Michigan Employee Relations Commission (MERC) has affirmed the right of Michigan employees to leave a union and stop paying dues for union politics at any time. Both cases were brought by public school employees who received free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

In the case of Mark Norgan, a Standish-Sterling Community Schools employee, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union insisted that he could only leave the union during an annual 30 day window period. James Cottrell, a Lenawee Intermediate School District employee, was told by Teamsters Local 214 officials that he had to notify them during a 15 day window period if he wished to opt out of dues for union politics.

These cases were only possible because of the right to refrain amendments included in Michigan’s Right to Work laws. Both have important implications for nonunion workers who are still subject to forced-dues contracts agreed to by their employers and unions before the 2012 labor reforms went into effect. Although Michigan’s Right to Work laws prohibit union contracts that require nonunion employees to belong to a union or pay union dues or fees, contracts entered into before the laws went into effect remain in force until they expire.

Consequently, many Michigan employees can still be required to pay union dues to get or keep a job. However, long-standing Supreme Court precedents hold that no employee can be required to join a union or pay dues for activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as union politics. Both Norgan and Cottrell attempted to exercise their rights to leave their respective unions and stop paying full union dues. In Norgan’s case, MEA officials denied his request to resign his union membership because he missed an arbitrary annual window period. In Cottrell’s case, Teamster officials used a spurious 15 day window period requirement to force him to continue paying dues for union politics.

The MERC’s decisions affirm the right of any Michigan employee, even those still subject to forced-dues contracts, to leave a union at any time and opt out of dues for union politics.

“Thanks to Michigan’s 2012 labor reforms, most Michigan employees can no longer be forced to pay any dues at all to a labor union,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, many Michigan workers still labor under forced-dues contracts that were grandfathered under the Right to Work laws.”

“Although those workers can still be forced to pay some union dues, they cannot be required to formally join a union or pay dues for union politics,” continued Mix. “We’ll continue to fight for the rights of these employees until every forced-dues contract in the state has expired and all Michigan workers enjoy the benefits of their state’s Right to Work laws.”

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Worker Advocate Issues Statement on Supreme Court Case that Could End Public Sector Forced Union Dues

Oral arguments begin in Friedrichs, a case that builds on Foundation Supreme Court precedents to challenge forced dues for civil servants

Washington, DC (January 10, 2016) – Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement regarding oral arguments in Friedrichs, a case brought by California public school teachers that challenges the constitutionality of mandatory union dues:

“For too long, union officials have been allowed to force teachers and other public employees to pay money to a union they don’t support just to work for their own government. Our hope is that the case the Supreme Court hears today will end this injustice once and for all.

“In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the United States Supreme Court is presented with a unique opportunity to end forced union dues in the public sector. In Harris v. Quinn and Knox v. SEIU – two recent, Foundation-won precedents – the High Court suggested that it was time to revisit the constitutionality of forcing civil servants to pay dues to unions they don’t belong to or support. We expect that the Court will follow through on those opinions and free public employees across the country from the burden of mandatory union dues.

“Drawing on decades of experience in the field of labor law, Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs and thoroughly examined the arguments presented by both sides. Our litigators believe that the merits of the arguments in Friedrichs clearly favor the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.

“Whatever the outcome in Friedrichs, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys stand ready to assist employees whose rights have been violated by forced unionism. As we have since our founding in 1968, we will continue to work toward the day when no employee is forced to pay union dues just to get or keep a job.”

Foundation experts are available to comment on the Friedrichs case and any other related issues. For more information, contact Will Collins at (703) 770-3317 or via email at wfc@nrtw.org.

 

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

UAW Hit with Federal Charges for Repeatedly Rejecting GM Worker’s Attempt to Leave Union, Stop Paying Dues

Union and GM officials ignore Michigan Right to Work protections

Oakland County, MI (December 1, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a local General Motors employee has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against his employer and the United Autoworkers (UAW) Local 5960 union. According to Daniel Lowery, union officials repeatedly ignored his requests to resign from the union and stop paying union dues.

Lowery is employed at GM’s Lake Orion Assembly Plant. He first submitted a written request to resign and stop paying union dues in late August, but this was denied by UAW officials. Lowery tried again in late September, only to have UAW officials reject his resignation on the grounds that he did not include his signature, a witness’s signature, and his social security number. He then resubmitted his resignation on October 2 with the information union officials demanded.

Instead of complying with Lowry’s request, the union called him down to its plant office, where a UAW official tried to persuade him not to resign. Lowery reiterated his desire to leave the union and stop paying dues, but the UAW again refused to honor his resignation. Moreover, GM continues to deduct full union dues from Lowery’s paycheck.

Under Michigan’s recently-enacted Right to Work laws, employees have the right to leave a union and stop paying union dues at any time. The laws exempted forced-dues contracts agreed to by employers and union officials before the legislation went into effect, including the UAW’s agreement with the “Big Three” automakers. Now that the UAW’s contract with the automakers has expired, all Big Three employees are free to leave the union and stop paying dues at any time.

Lowery’s charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency responsible for enforcing private sector labor law.

“It is outrageous that nearly three years after Michigan’s Right to Work laws were enacted, union bosses still are blocking workers from exercising their right to resign their union membership and stop paying union dues and fees,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Instead of respecting Mr. Lowery’s right to decide whether to join and financially support the union, scofflaw UAW bosses simply ignored his wishes.”

“We encourage any Michigan employee who needs help asserting his or her rights under Michigan’s Right to Work laws to contact the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal assistance,” added Mix.

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

UAW’s Plan to “Extend” Expired Contract with the Big Three Doesn’t Impact Workers’ Rights to Stop Paying Union Dues

Worker advocate issues statement clarifying employee rights

Springfield, VA (September 22, 2015) – The National Right to Work Foundation, which provides free legal assistance to employees nationwide, issued the following statement after UAW officials announced that they would extended their expired bargaining agreement with the Big Three Automakers on an ‘hour-by-hour basis’:

The UAW’s recent announcement that it will extend the existing bargaining agreement with the Big Three Automakers on an “hour-by-hour basis” does not change the fact that Big Three employees in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin now have the right to stop paying union dues. If you or someone you know has been denied the right to stop paying union dues by UAW officials on the grounds that their previous bargaining agreement with the UAW has been extended, contact the National Right to Work Foundation immediately by visiting the Foundation’s website or calling 1-800-336-3600.

“UAW officials can say what they want, but they no longer have the legal authority to require Big Three employees in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana to pay union dues as any ‘extended’ contract is now fully covered by state Right to Work laws,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “It’s important that employees in all three states understand and are able to exercise their recently-enshrined workplace rights, and we encourage any autoworker who wishes to stop paying union dues to contact the National Right to Work Foundation immediately for free legal assistance.”

The Foundation’s full legal notice to UAW employees can be read here.

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

SEIU Officials Face Federal Hearing for Illegally Enrolling New Hospital Employees as Dues-Paying Union Members

Hospital employee filed unfair labor practice charges with the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys

Thousand Oaks, CA (September 15, 2015) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a formal complaint against the SEIU United Healthcare Workers West union for violating the rights of Guillermo Cornejo, a nurses’ aid at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center.

In March of 2012, SEIU officials informed Cornejo that he was automatically enrolled as a union member after he started working at Los Robles and would be expected to pay full union dues. SEIU officials never properly informed Cornejo of his rights to refrain from formal union membership and opt out of paying full dues.

In California and other states that lack Right to Work laws, nonunion employees can be required to pay union fees as a condition of employment. However, they cannot be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as political activism. Moreover, federal labor law holds that no employee can be forced to formally join a union. Union officials have a legal duty to inform employees of their rights.

Despite these protections, SEIU officials never informed Cornejo of his workplace rights and failed to give Los Robles employees adequate information about how to opt out of paying dues for union politics. In April 2013, SEIU officials attempted to have Cornejo fired from the hospital for refusing to comply with their forced-dues demands.

With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Cornejo responded by filing unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB in May 2013. The Board’s General Counsel has now issued a formal complaint against the union, seeking to require union officials to inform employees of their right to refrain and obtain reimbursement, plus interest, of any union dues confiscated from nonunion employees for activities unrelated to workplace bargaining since November 2012.

“SEIU officials ignored the law to force new employees into full dues-paying union ranks,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “We’re happy to report that the NLRB has finally taken action to hold SEIU bosses accountable for this injustice, but similar union practices will continue until California adopts a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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