Seattle-area case highlights need for state Right to Work law
Seattle, WA (March 20, 2012) – An employee at a private, non-profit public defense law firm has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against a Seattle-area union for violating her rights.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons employee Stephanie Kalfayan filed the charges Friday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Seattle.
Kalfayan resigned from formal union membership in Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 925 and invoked her right to refrain from paying full union dues. However, because SEIU Local 925 officials enjoy monopoly bargaining privileges over her workplace, and because Washington does not have state Right to Work protections for its workers, Kalfayan is forced to accept SEIU officials' "representation" and pay union fees as a condition of employment.
When resigning from formal union membership, Kalfayan exercised her rights upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation's Communications Workers of America v. Beck (1988) case. In Beck, the Court determined that union officials cannot compel nonmembers to pay the portion of union dues used for the union's political, lobbying, and member-only activities. Additionally, union officials are required to provide adequate financial disclosure of union expenditures to inform workers who refrain from union membership of how their forced dues are being spent.
However, the SEIU Local 925 hierarchy charges nonmember workers to pay for the union's controversial "Unity Fund," but does not provide the adequate disclosure to ensure Kalfayan and her coworkers are fully aware of the fund and its activities.
Further, SEIU Local 925 officials are demanding Kalfayan sign a union dues authorization form – a document used by union officials to deduct union dues from workers' paychecks. If Kalfayan refuses, union officials have threatened to deduct full union dues from her paycheck.
"SEIU Local 925 officials are blatantly violating the rights of workers who have exercised their right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. "Forced unionism abuses such as this shows that Washington desperately needs a Right to Work law making union affiliation completely voluntary."
Twenty-three states have Right to Work protections for its workers. Recent public polling shows that 80 percent of Americans and 80 percent of union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.