Gresham, OR (March 25, 2013) – A group of local school bus drivers have won a federal settlement including back pay from a local union hierarchy after union officials illegally demanded they join the union or be fired.
The settlement stems from a federal charge six of the drivers filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Office in Seattle with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Oregon School Employees Association, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 6732 union officials demanded that all drivers join the union and pay full union dues or face discharge.
Because Oregon does not have Right to Work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, the bus drivers can still be forced to pay part of forced union dues to keep their jobs. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that workers have the right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership, and nonmember workers cannot be required to pay union dues or fees spent for union political activities and member-only events.
AFT Local 6732 union officials confiscated full union dues from the drivers' paychecks without informing the workers of their right to refrain from formal union membership. Union officials continued to confiscate full union dues from both drivers who refused to join the union and drivers who joined the union with objections because they thought they had no choice.
After the six drivers represented by Foundation attorneys filed the federal charge, union officials were forced to settle the case and also agreed to refund back pay to four other drivers.
"AFT Local 6732 union officials made a mockery of federal law in order to keep their forced dues gravy train going," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores the need for Oregon to pass state Right to Work protections for its workers."
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the principle of voluntary unionism.