Case shows why West Virginia’s workers need Right to Work protections
Morgantown, WV (February 28, 2013) – A West Virginia University Hospital employee has finally received justice under a federal settlement after union officials failed to abide by the settlement for months.
With aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, Kimberly Wright filed a series of federal charges against a local union for refusing to honor her resignation from formal union membership, forcing her to pay full union dues against her will, and failing to provide the legally-required disclosure of how her forced dues are being spent.
Wright initially resigned formal union membership from the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 814 in December 2010. Wright exercised her rights under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Communications Workers v. Beck, which allows workers to refrain from full dues paying union membership.
Because West Virginia does not have a Right to Work law on the books, workers can still be compelled to pay a part of union dues despite refraining from formal union membership. For months following her resignation, LIUNA Local 814 union bosses continued to collect full union dues from Wright's paychecks and refused to provide her with a breakdown of how her forced dues are being spent.
After Wright filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Board reached a settlement with the union officials. However, LIUNA Local 814 union officials continued to collect full union dues from Wright's paychecks despite the settlement, forcing her to file another charge with the NLRB. The second charge was settled in September 2012.
The union again failed to abide by the settlement for months and continued to collect full union dues. Finally, after Wright and her Foundation staff attorneys requested that the Board revoke the settlement and issue a complaint due to the union bosses' non-compliance, union officials relented, refunding 26 months of overcharges to Wright and providing audits of the union's books and records.
"Despite two federal settlements, LIUNA Local 814 union officials ignored Kimberly Wright's rights for months on end, but they still have the power to compel her to pay union dues or fees as a condition of her employment," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. "This case shows that workers need Right to Work protections making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary."
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.