News Release

FirstEnergy Worker Files Federal Charge Against Local Electrical Worker Union

Union officials threaten worker to join union or lose her job

Reading, PA (September 12, 2013) – A FirstEnergy Corp. worker has filed a federal charge against a local union for violating her rights.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Deborah Adie of Orwigsburg filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In the charge, Adie alleges that International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 777 union officials demanded she join the union or she would lose her job.

Under federal law, no worker can be forced to formally join a union. However, because Pennsylvania is not a Right to Work state, workers can be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. IBEW Local 777 union officials never informed Adie of her right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership, a right upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Right to Work Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck case.

In mid-March, Adie wrote a letter to the union hierarchy resigning her union membership and objecting to paying full union dues. Despite her request, union officials refused to acknowledge her resignation, and they continue to collect full union dues from her paychecks.

In April, Adie was told by a union official that she needed to fill out a union form instead of her March resignation letter in order to resign membership. Because she failed to turn in that form, she was notified that the union would not recognize her resignation and would continue to take full union dues from her paychecks.

Adie's charge also challenges the provision of the IBEW Local 777’s monopoly bargaining agreement with FirstEnergy that illegally requires workers to remain in the union as a condition of their employment.

"No worker should ever be forced to join or pay dues to an unwanted union just to get or keep a job," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "And no worker should be required to jump through hoops just to exercise their rights."

"This case underscores why Pennsylvania needs to pass a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary," added Mix.

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.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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