PALMDALE, Calif. (March 5, 2001) — A Lockheed Martin employee today filed federal charges against an international labor union after union officials illegally seized forced union dues from his paycheck to fund union political activities.
With the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, the aeronautics factory employee, Mark Thomley, filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union, its District 725 affiliate, and its Palmdale-based Local 727-P affiliate.
“Mark Thomley and his coworkers are being forced to fork over their hard-earned money for political activities they don’t support,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse.
The charges state that union officials devised a “rebate” scheme under which they seize fees used for politics and other nonchargeable expenditures from nonmembers’ paychecks. Union bureaucrats do not return the money – which (the charges state) “should never have been taken in the first place” – until several months later.
Union officials’ actions violate the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision in Communications Workers v. Beck, which held that workers may withhold any forced union dues used for all activities unrelated to collective bargaining. In addition, union officials are violating NLRB rulings (in California Saw and Knife Works and other cases) requiring unions to provide objecting nonmembers with an “advance reduction” of their dues.
Foundation attorneys are demanding that the IAM union halt its practice of collecting full union dues from nonmembers and immediately return all money illegally confiscated from workers under the union’s “rebate” scheme.
Washington, D.C. (February 16, 2001) — A national employee rights spokesman today declared that President George W. Bush’s imminent executive order regarding forced union dues is “only a small, symbolic first step toward curbing compulsory unionism abuse” and warned that far more must be done before employee rights are truly protected.
The Associated Press wire reported this afternoon that President Bush may sign the order as early as tomorrow.
“President Bush’s imminent executive order would only be a small and largely symbolic first step toward curbing compulsory unionism abuse. However, unless the NLRB is actually willing to enforce the law, union officials will continue to shake employees down for political contributions with virtual impunity,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys originally won Communications Workers v. Beck at the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988 on behalf of telephone lineman Harry Beck, thereby establishing that objecting employees may reclaim all forced union dues not used for collective bargaining activities, like politics.
The executive order only affects a small segment of the 12 million American employees compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment, as it just requires federal contractors to inform workers of their Beck rights by posting workplace notices. Bush’s father issued a similar executive order in April of 1992 that was immediately revoked at the request of union officials as President Clinton took office in 1993. Additionally, the Clinton National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stonewalled the enforcement of these precious employee protections, often leaving many cases languishing within the bureaucracy for six or more years.
Experts estimate that during the year 2000 elections, union officials spent approximately $800 million on soft money and in-kind political activities, nearly all of it paid for out of union dues collected from employees as a condition of employment. Gleason pointed out that even with full enforcement, the Beck precedent is not a cure-all. Nevertheless, the Foundation’s free legal aid program has ensured that hundreds of thousands of employees are getting substantial dues reductions.
Gleason noted that the best solution is to attack compulsory unionism abuse at its root, not to fashion new regulatory schemes and government bureaucracies to regulate its ill effects. (Many are watching President Bush to see whether he will make good on his pledge to advocate the National Right to Work Act in Congress, a measure that would repeal federal authorization of compulsory unionism, thereby restoring employees’ freedom to choose whether to join or support a union.)
Ultimately, another Foundation case may lead the U.S. Supreme Court to declare monopoly bargaining itself unconstitutional or to go beyond the Beck approach and declare forced dues entirely unconstitutional. (The latter of these two goals could be achieved by a pending Foundation case, Belhumeur v. Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission, now on petition for a writ of certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court.)
DEFERIET, N.Y. (February 12, 2001) — A paper mill worker today filed federal charges against a local industrial union for refusing to recognize his legal right to quit the union and stop paying union dues for politics.
The Deferiet Paper Company employee, Wayne Dimock, turned to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal help after officials at a local affiliate of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy (PACE) international union refused to acknowledge his objection to union membership. Union officials also threatened to gouge the worker with fines and force his firing from his job unless he became a full member of the union or paid full union dues.
“PACE union officials are systematically violating the civil rights of Wayne Dimock and his co-workers,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse.
The federal charges, filed with the National Labor Relations Board against PACE Local 45, state that union officials violated the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, which holds that workers may resign their union memberships and withhold any union dues used for politics and other non-representational activities.
The politically active PACE union has failed to provide Dimock with an independent audit of its expenditures, in violation of disclosure requirements established in the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson.
Union officials are now threatening numerous other workers at Deferiet Paper Company with fines and discharge for exercising their rights to refrain from union membership and the payment of full union dues.
Foundation attorneys are demanding that any illegally seized forced union dues be returned to these workers.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today released an analysis revealing that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill is a “Trojan Horse,” containing crafty language designed specifically to gut the U.S. Supreme Court Beck decision.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys won the U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers of America v. Beck decision in 1988, allowing employees to halt and reclaim all forced union dues not used for collective bargaining activity, like politics.
The legal analysis, written by one of the Foundation attorneys who won the Supreme Court’s Beck decision, demonstrates that the McCain-Feingold legislation would:
- Hand the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) exclusive jurisdiction to enforce Beck — stripping the federal courts of their jurisdiction to do the same. (The NLRB has consistently dragged its heels with regard to Beck enforcement.)
- Overrule 40 years of the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal labor laws by sanctioning the use, now prohibited, of compulsory dues for a broad range of political and ideological purposes.
- Repudiate the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1961 decision in Machinists v. Street that no political and ideological activities may be subsidized with compulsory union dues.
- Gut the U.S. Supreme Court Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson decision requiring union officials to provide nonmembers with an independent audit of union expenditures before seizing any forced dues. Under McCain-Feingold, union officials would no longer be required to provide full disclosure.
Fresno, Calif. (January 9, 2001) — Four Bakersfield teachers today filed a federal lawsuit to strike down the California Teachers Association (CTA) union’s statewide policy of seizing forced union dues from teachers’ paychecks that are funneled into questionable and undisclosed union activities, including politics.
The teachers charge that the CTA union’s policy illegally directs local affiliates statewide to seize union dues without first providing an independently audited financial disclosure.
The teachers filed the lawsuit, Lakin v. CTA, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against the CTA union, its Kern High Faculty Association union affiliate, and Kern High School District (for enforcing the illegal collection of dues).
“CTA union officials devised this statewide scheme to force California’s teachers to fund their massive political operation,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is providing free legal aid to the teachers.
Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as articulated in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, union officials must first provide independently audited disclosure of their books and prove that forced union dues are not spent on non-bargaining activities like politics.
Using CTA union procedures, hundreds of CTA-affiliated local unions are intentionally circumventing the constitutional requirements for disclosure by claiming that the percentage of the local union activities tied to collective bargaining could be arbitrarily “presumed” to be equivalent to the percentage reported on the CTA union’s financial disclosure.
Under two previous Foundation-won federal court rulings, Sheffield v. CTA and Foster v. CTA, there is absolutely no debate that this “local presumption” scheme is unconstitutional. However, the state’s largest union continues to use it. In this lawsuit, Foundation attorneys seek to have the CTA union’s statewide “local presumption” procedures declared unconstitutional; enjoin the CTA union from directing local affiliates to use those procedures; and enjoin the Kern High Faculty Association union from seizing union dues using those procedures.