Local Worker Files Charges against Union Officials, Employer after Being Forced to Pay Teamster Dues
Union officials, management ignored employee’s right to refrain from union membership and full dues payment
Wasilla, AK (March 25, 2014) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a local First Student employee has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against her employer and the General Teamsters Local 959 union for demanding she join the Teamsters or lose her job and forcing her to pay full union dues.
Ruth Chester, an administrative aide with First Student, has never been a member of Local 959. Despite her decision to refrain from union membership, Teamster officials demanded she join the union and pay full dues.
Within the past six months, moreover, First Student has deducted full union dues from Chester’s paycheck and passed them on to Local 959.
Because Alaska lacks a Right to Work law, employees can be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. However, workers have the right to refrain from formal union membership and opt out of paying union dues for activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as political activism and members-only events.
Unions are also required to provide nonunion employees with an independently-audited breakdown of their financial expenditures to help them determine what dues they are legally obligated to contribute. Teamster officials never provided Chester with any information on her financial obligations to the union.
Chester’s charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency responsible for administering private sector labor law.
“First Student and the Teamsters both have bad histories of ignoring workers’ rights,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Foundation staff attorneys have represented other First Student employees in Alaska, Ohio, and Oregon whose rights were violated by union officials.”
“We hope these charges force First Student and the Teamsters to respect nonunion employees’ rights to refrain from union membership and the payment of full union dues,” continued Semmens. “However, this type of abuse will continue as long as Alaska lacks a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”