Worker discharged from job for not contributing to "voluntary" union PAC
Beckley, WV (April 22, 2013) – A Pennsylvania construction company and a local union are facing a federal prosecution for violating the rights of a former truck driver/laborer and illegally seizing union dues from workers' paychecks for the union's political action committee (PAC).
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Jeff Richmond of Meadow Bridge, WV, filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Penn Line Service, Inc. and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 453.
In July 2012, when Penn Line Service hired Richmond, company management informed him that the job was a "union job." Between July and October, the company confiscated, and the LIUNA hierarchy accepted, full union dues from Richmond's paychecks even though he had not joined the union nor given prior authorization for the company to take full union dues from his paychecks.
In October, company management gave Richmond and his coworkers a union membership and dues deductions authorization form. The form included a section for the employees to authorize "voluntary" contributions to LIUNA's political action committee, the Laborers’ Political League, and the West Virginia Laborer's District Council PAC.
Richmond signed up for union membership because he thought it was required for him to keep his job. Richmond did not, however, authorize the "voluntary" PAC contributions. Shortly thereafter, Richmond was discharged from his job for refusing to sign up for the union PAC contributions.
Under federal law, no worker can be forced to join a union. However, because West Virginia does not have a Right to Work law, workers who refrain from union membership can be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck case that nonmembers may not be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as union political activities and members-only events.
The NLRB issued a formal complaint against the union and the company. A hearing is set for June 4, 2013.
"Bulldozing someone into contributing to a union PAC that violates their sincerely-held beliefs is a clear violation of federal law," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "No worker should ever be forced to pay union dues or fees for a cause in which they disagree. That is why West Virginia needs to pass a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary."