Union officials violate CMU instructor’s Free Speech rights; case shows need for state Right to Work law
Lansing, MI (June 11, 2012) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a temporary instructor at Central Michigan University (CMU) has spurred a state prosecution against a local union for violating her First Amendment rights.
Nancy Rusch of St. Louis, filed a charge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) against the Union of Teaching Faculty (UTF) union for illegally confiscating union dues payments from her and her coworkers' paychecks without following federal requirements.
Because Michigan does not have Right to Work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, Rusch, who has refrained from formal union membership, is still forced to pay part of forced union dues to keep her job at the university. However, she is not required to pay union dues or fees for union boss political activities, lobbying, and member-only events.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation's Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson victory that union officials must provide public workers with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures. This procedural safeguard helps inform workers of where their forced union dues and fees are being spent and makes it a little less difficult for workers to hold union officials accountable.
Rusch filed her charge with MERC in mid-April. MERC investigated the charge and issued a complaint against the UTF union last week. A hearing is scheduled for later this summer.
"Union bosses are deliberately keeping rank-and-file workers in the dark to keep their forced-dues gravy train going," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. "To prevent these types of forced unionism abuses in the future, Michigan needs to pass a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."
Twenty-three states have Right to Work protections for 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.