Union bosses sent collection agency after unsuspecting NM government employee
Albuquerque, NM (December 3, 2012) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a public defender from the Alamogordo office of the New Mexico Public Defender Department has won a settlement from a local union for wrongfully charging her with failure to pay union dues for the past five years.
Nancy Fleming initially filed a charge with the New Mexico Public Employee Labor Relations Board against American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) New Mexico Council 18 after union officials tried to confiscate forced union dues payments from her paycheck without notifying her that she was in the union’s monopoly bargaining unit or following federal disclosure requirements.
Fleming was unaware that AFSCME Council 18 union officials claimed to “represent” her and she was never asked if she wanted to be a member or pay union dues or fees to the union. However, Fleming began to receive notices earlier this year from a collection agency stating that the union reported her delinquent in paying union dues or fees dating back to 2006.
In New Mexico, union officials often report workers who do not make dues payments to a collection agency, opening the door for unsuspecting workers to find themselves being harassed for payment of union dues they did not even know existed.
The settlement requires union officials to call off the collection agency and ensure Fleming’s credit rating is intact.
However, because New Mexico does not have Right to Work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, workers who refrain from formal union membership may still be forced to pay part of union dues to keep their jobs. As such, union officials can begin to confiscate forced union dues from Fleming’s paychecks once they provide her with the proper disclosure
“Because New Mexico does not have a Right to Work law, Ms. Fleming may now be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment to the very union hierarchy that nearly ruined her credit,” said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. “To prevent these types of forced unionism abuses in the future, New Mexico desperately 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. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.