Union officials demand worker be fired for exercising Constitutionally-protected right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership
Saint Paul, Minnesota (February 13, 2012) – A Regions Hospital switchboard operator filed a federal charge against a local union for threatening to fire her for exercising her right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership.
With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, Rebecca Holt recently filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 722 union bosses demanded Holt sign an "Authorization of Payroll Deduction" form authorizing union officials to deduct full union dues from her paycheck. Holt requested information about her rights, including her right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership.
Because Minnesota does not have Right to Work protections for its workers, employees can be forced to pay a part of union dues as a condition of employment. However, union officials cannot demand formal union membership to keep a job. The Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck also holds that workers who refrain from union membership cannot be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as politics and political lobbying.
Instead of informing Holt of her rights, union officials initiated disciplinary procedures with the hospital to have her terminated from her job. Additionally, one union official attempted to bully Holt to sign the dues deduction authorization while she was working at her desk, prompting her immediate coworkers to look into their rights to refrain from union membership.
"Rebecca Holt is taking a courageous stand against the union officials’ campaign of intimidation and thuggery," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. "AFSCME union bosses are blatantly violating the law by attempting to have an employee fired for inquiring about her constitutional rights and for refusing to pay for the union's political agenda."
"Ultimately, Minnesota desperately needs a Right to Work law to protect workers from forced unionism abuses like this in the future," added Mix.