High Court will determine whether union officials may charge nonmembers for lawsuits unrelated to bargaining unit
Washington, DC (October 3, 2008) – Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, made the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court case Locke v. Karass scheduled for argument on Monday, October 6.
“In previous cases argued by attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation, the Supreme Court has thus far ruled that union officials may force employees to pay union dues or be fired from their jobs. But they may not legally charge nonmembers for any activities beyond what union bosses can prove is spent on collective bargaining and contract administration.
“In their unquenchable thirst for more forced union dues, union bosses have developed a number of creative ways to stick nonmembers with the bill for union activism.
“The Supreme Court in Locke will directly address the question of whether non-union employees can be forced to pay for costly union lawsuits that do not concern their own place of employment. The answer should be ‘no’ based on existing Supreme Court precedent. Litigation is expressive activity, and forcing unwilling individuals to fund it violates their First Amendment rights. And lawsuits are often used to grease the rails for union organizing and ultimately more forced dues.
“Millions of workers laboring under forced unionism in America may be affected by the Court’s decision. While we are optimistic the Court will rule in our favor, the real remedy for the misuse of compulsory union dues is the elimination of Big Labor’s government-enabled special privileges that cause the problem in the first place. No worker should be forced to pay tribute to an unwanted union.”
Foundation attorneys filed the Locke case for Daniel Locke and 19 other Maine State employees in 2005 after the state legislature and governor repaid campaign debts by imposing a forced union dues requirement on the state government workforce. The employees’ lawsuit successfully forced Maine State Employee Association union officials to abandon their efforts to force nonmembers to subsidize their nationwide organizing efforts and reduce their forced dues demands of nonmembers, but the employees lost on the litigation funding question at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.