IBEW union officials fail to follow federal disclosure guidelines while requiring deputy AG to pay mandatory union fees
Trenton, NJ (March 20, 2015) – A New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety Deputy Attorney General has filed a federal lawsuit against a local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) affiliate for violating his rights and refusing to follow federal disclosure requirements.
James Bennett filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Even though Bennett is not a member of the IBEW Local 33 union, he must still accept union officials' monopoly bargaining "representation." Further, IBEW Local 33 union officials force him and other nonmembers at his workplace to pay the equivalent of 85 percent of full union dues, the maximum amount allowed under state law, as a condition of employment.
The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that workers have the unconditional right to refrain from union membership at any time. However, because New Jersey does not have a Right to Work law, union officials can compel nonmember workers into paying union dues and fees as a condition of employment.
The Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation's Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson case that union officials must provide nonmember public workers with an independently-audited breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures and the opportunity to object and challenge the amount of forced union fees before an impartial decision maker. This minimal safeguard is designed to ensure that workers have an opportunity to refrain from paying for union political activities and member-only events.
Bennett's suit alleges that although Local 33 union officials purportedly charge him the maximum amount of forced union fees allowed under state law, they have failed to follow the federal disclosure requirements outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hudson.
Bennett is asking the court to stop the illegal union deductions from his paychecks and order a refund of all illegally-seized union dues and fees, plus interest.
"To keep their forced-dues gravy train going, IBEW union officials are keeping public servants in the dark about their rights," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores why New Jersey needs to follow the example most recently set by Wisconsin and pass a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."
Twenty-five states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the principle of voluntary unionism.