Right to Work Foundation attorneys challenge union hierarchy for violating civil servant’s constitutional rights
Philadelphia, PA (April 10, 2013) – A Downingtown Area School District school teacher has filed a federal lawsuit against a local union and the school district for violating her rights and refusing to follow federal disclosure requirements.
Maria del Carmen Gonzalez Tucker filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania located in Philadelphia with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Tucker resigned from formal union membership in the Downingtown Area Education Association (DAEA), an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Education Association and the National Education Association (NEA) unions, in early December 2012.
The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that workers have the unconditional right to refrain from union membership at any time. Additionally, the Court ruled in the Foundation's Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson case that union officials must provide nonmember public workers with an independently-audited breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures and the opportunity to object and challenge the amount of forced union fees before an impartial decision maker.
This minimal safeguard is designed to ensure that workers have an opportunity to refrain from paying for union political activities and member-only events.
Despite Tucker's resignation, DAEA union officials notified her that she "will be part of the DAEA through the 2012-2013 school year." Tucker's suit alleges that the school district continues to deduct full union dues from her paychecks at union officials' behest even though the union hierarchy has refused to follow the federal disclosure requirements outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hudson.
Tucker is asking the court to halt the deduction of full union dues from her paychecks until she receives proper disclosure and to order a refund of any illegally-seized union dues and fees. The suit also challenges as unconstitutional two Pennsylvania laws that purport to grant union officials the power to force nonmember workers into paying full union dues against their will.
"Because Pennsylvania does not have a Right to Work law, union bosses can compel nonmember workers into paying union dues and fees as a condition of employment," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores why Pennsylvania needs a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."