Public Employees Hit Operating Engineers Union with Unfair Labor Practice Charges for Intimidation, Discrimination
Sacramento public employees were target of IUOE union’s request for their emails related to rights to oppose unionization
Sacramento, California (October 18, 2018) – Three employees of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District filed unfair labor charges with the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) against Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 3 union after a union official used the state’s public records request system to attempt to harass and intimidate the workers for being critical of the union and seeking to exercise their rights.
Ryan Wagner, Brett Day, and Mark Pipkin, with free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, filed the unfair practice charges after they received notification by their employer that a union official had requested their work email records and other documents under the California Public Records Act.
The Operating Engineers official requested copies of all three employees’ emails with keywords such as “decertification,” “PERB,” “union,” “decertify,” “how to get rid of union,” “Public Employee Relations Board,” and “Meyers Milias Brown Act.” The terms are related to the employees’ legal rights under California law, specifically the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) which covers county and municipal workers, to remove a union that has lost the support of a majority of workers.
Under the MMBA, workers have a right to abstain from formal union membership and participation in union activities. Unions are prohibited from interfering with, intimidating, restraining, coercing or discriminating against public employees because of the exercise of those rights.
The charges filed with PERB state that the union official’s requests violate the workers’ rights under California’s labor law. The three workers each request that, as a remedy for the illegal intimidation, the union be required to post notices to all employees of their right to refrain from union activities under California law, and that the union’s practices violated Wagner, Day, and Pipkin’s legal rights.
Before the June Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, public employees in California could be required to pay union dues or fees, even if they were not union members. After Janus recognized workers’ First Amendment right not to fund union speech, the three workers were free from union forced dues, but still stuck under the union’s monopoly contract and so-called “representation.” A decertification election, about which the union official’s records request sought information, would force the union to prove that it actually has the support of at least a majority of the workers it claims to represent.
“This case shows that union officials will go to any lengths to try to trap workers under a union monopoly they oppose,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Apparently, IUOE union bosses are so fearful of letting workers vote on unionization, that they are willing to harass and attempt to intimidate workers whom they claim to ‘represent.’”
Citing the Janus Supreme Court decision, Michigan civil servants seek refund of dues collected without consent, and an end to union campaign to extract forced fees
Lansing, Michigan (October 18, 2018) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, two Michigan public school employees have filed a class action lawsuit against the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union, an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest government employee union in the country.
Plaintiffs Linda Gervais and Tammy Williams, who both worked for the Port Huron Area School District, are suing the MEA after union officials spent years illegally attempting to obtain membership dues from the two women. The workers’ suit demands that MEA officials stop the harassment, including the use of debt collectors, and refund dues illegally obtained from potentially thousands of other non-member public school employees.
Gervais and Williams exercised their rights by resigning their union memberships in September 2013, approximately nine months after Michigan enacted Right to Work legislation that protects workers from being forced to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. Despite the resignations and the law, MEA officials continued to demand that they pay dues for a period after their resignations.
As part of the MEA campaign to collect the dues, union agents contacted Gervais and Williams dozens of times demanding hundreds of dollars’ worth of back dues which the women were under no legal obligation to pay. Union agents even threatened to take both women to small claims court for their failure to pay the demanded fees.
MEA officials claimed that Gervais and Williams missed the “window period” to cut off union payments. However, in a 2014 case brought by Foundation staff attorneys, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) decision striking down that “window period” scheme as illegal under Michigan’s public sector Right to Work law. Gervais and Williams lawsuit applies the protections under the June U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Foundation-won case Janus v. AFSCME.
The landmark Janus decision ruled that a union violates the First Amendment by demanding or coercing public employees to pay union dues or fees without their explicit consent. Citing that ruling, Gervais and Williams’ federal class action lawsuit seeks an end to the unions’ demands, for themselves and other workers who faced, or continue to face, the same demands, along with refunds for all workers who paid the dues MEA agents illegally demanded.
“As the union bosses’ attempt to counteract Michigan’s Right to Work law demonstrates, although union membership and financial support is voluntary under the law, that doesn’t mean Big Labor will obey that law,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Thankfully, armed with the Foundation-won Janus Supreme Court decision, Linda, Tammy, and countless other Michigan educators are a step closer to ending this multi-year campaign of illegal dues demands.”
Since Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed Right to Work legislation into state law in December 2012, Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 100 cases in Michigan to combat compulsory unionism. Foundation staff attorneys are also pursuing dozens of other cases across the country since the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus.
Ohio Public Employees File Two Class-Action Lawsuits Against AFSCME Unions to Enforce Janus Supreme Court Decision
Lawsuits seek refunds for forced union dues seized from nonmembers and end to union policy blocking workers from exercising First Amendment rights under Janus
Columbus, Ohio (October 15, 2018) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys are providing free legal aid to public sector workers in Ohio in two class-action lawsuits filed today against Ohio affiliates of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME) union. One lawsuit aims to end unconstitutional restrictions created by union officials to block workers from exercising their constitutional rights as recognized by the Janus decision, while the other class-action complaint demands the return of forced fees seized in recent years from state employees who were not union members.
The filings are part of a wave of cases brought by Foundation staff attorneys for public employees seeking to enforce their rights under the June Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, which was briefed and argued at the Supreme Court by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the Court ruled that the collection of dues or fees from workers without explicit employee authorization violates workers’ constitutional rights.
In the case seeking refunds of illegally-seized union fees Foundation staff attorneys represent Nathaniel Ogle, an employee of Ohio’s Department of Taxation. The case seeks refunds for Ogle and a class of other state employees who were not union members but nevertheless had forced union fees seized from their paychecks. The case was filed against Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (AFSCME Local 11) union, which has monopoly bargaining power over more than 30,000 Ohio government employees.
In the other class-action lawsuit, Foundation staff attorneys represent Jotham Smith, Adam Scheiner, Brian Parks, Annette Lipsky, Steven Fletcher, Michael Cooper, and Tracey Baird, who are employed by various state and local Ohio government agencies. The workers all resigned their membership from AFSCME Council 8 following the Janus decision, but AFSCME officials have continued deducting dues, citing a union policy restricting revocation of dues deduction to a narrow 15-day window before a new monopoly bargaining contract is enforced. The lawsuit, which is also filed on behalf of other public employees who attempted to resign from the union and exercise their rights under Janus only to be blocked, asks the court to declare AFSCME’s resignation policy unconstitutional and seeks an injunction to stop the union from collecting dues from non-consenting public employees.
“Since the Janus decision was announced in June, Foundation staff attorneys have received a flood of calls from workers wanting to enforce their First Amendment rights,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Unfortunately, rather than allow workers to decide freely whether or not to associate with and financially support a labor union, union bosses coast to coast have instead attempted to block workers from exercising their constitutional rights, making numerous Janus enforcement cases necessary.”
To inform workers of their legal rights under Janus, and ensure they know they can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid if union officials attempt to obstruct them from exercising those rights, the Foundation launched a special website: MyJanusRights.org.
Special Legal Notice to Rhode Island Public Employees: Supreme Court’s Janus Ruling Means You Can Resign from Union & Cut off Dues at Any Time
Legal group that won Janus case denounces Rhode Island union bosses and public officials who are misleading workers about their rights
RHODE ISLAND (October 11, 2018) – In response to reports that the Rhode Island Attorney General and Ocean State union officials are misinforming teachers and other public employees of their legal protections under the Foundation-won Janus decision, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have issued a Special Legal Notice for all Rhode Island teachers who wish to exercise their right to stop financially supporting a union.
The notice can be found here: Setting the Record Straight on Teacher Rights in Rhode Island after Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.
The notice comes after Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin – who signed onto an anti-Janus brief at the Supreme Court and received major support from union officials in his runs for public office – made the false claim that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling “only affects non-union members” and does not apply to union members.
The Attorney General is wrong. Under Janus all government employees have the right to resign their union membership and immediately stop any financial payments to union officials. Because the Supreme Court decision made it clear that public workers must opt-in to any union payments and explicitly waive their constitutional rights, union members cannot be restricted if they seek to resign from the union and stop the payment of any union dues or fees.
The Bristol-Warren Education Association (BWEA) and the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI) also issued a letter blatantly misleading teachers about their Janus rights. The letter claims that union nonmembers must pay a NEARI attorney to file a grievance against the union. However, as the Foundation’s notice states, unions are legally obligated to provide grievance service to both members and nonmembers as part of its exclusive monopoly bargaining status.
The BWEA and NEARI union officials’ letter also incorrectly claims that nonmembers are unable to request days from the Sick Leave Bank, even though the BWEA’s monopoly bargaining agreement establishes the Sick Leave Bank for all teachers, including nonmembers, covered by the agreement.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, released the following statement regarding the notice:
“It’s shameful that the Attorney General of Rhode Island and union officials in the state are attempting to mislead public employees about their legal protections. Under Janus, any public sector employee can at any time exercise the First Amendment right to stop paying union dues and fees to a union they do not wish to support. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and is simply a cynical union boss money grab.
“Union officials ought to focus on earning the trust and support of the workers they claim to represent. Instead, they and their political allies are attempting to wield their unique monopoly bargaining privileges to discriminate against workers who seek to exercise their Janus rights. Any Rhode Island public teacher or other public employee who has been blocked from stopping union payments as is their right under Janus can turn to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for free legal assistance.”
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are already representing workers in lawsuits across the country who have been wrongly blocked from exercising their rights under Janus.
Because of the numerous requests from workers for information about their rights under the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision, the Foundation established MyJanusRights.org to educate public employees about their protections under Janus.
The site also enables workers to request free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation if their rights are not being respected by union officials.
Citing Janus, Pennsylvania Public School Teachers Ask Federal Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Law Authorizing Forced Dues
Teachers who sued to challenge forced union fees file motion asking court to apply the Supreme Court’s Janus decision to Keystone State law authorizing forced fees
Harrisburg, PA (October 9, 2018) – In an ongoing case challenging the constitutionality of mandatory union payments, a group of Pennsylvania teachers have asked a federal judge to apply the recent landmark Janus Supreme Court precedent by striking down the portions of Pennsylvania law that authorize forced union dues.
This case, Hartnett v. Pennsylvania State Education Association, was originally filed in March 2017 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in the state capital of Harrisburg. Teachers Gregory Hartnett of the Homer-Center School District, Elizabeth Galaska of the Twin Valley School District, and Robert Brough Jr. and John Cress of the Ellwood City Area School District, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Pennsylvania-based Fairness Center, filed the case as a First Amendment challenge to the state law which gives public sector union officials the power to compel non-union teachers and other government workers to pay union fees to keep their jobs.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Illinois state worker Mark Janus, whose case was briefed and argued by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. In Janus, the Supreme Court ruled that, unless public sector workers affirmatively consent to paying union dues or fees and knowingly waive their First Amendment right not to subsidize a labor union, the collection of dues or fees violates their constitutional rights.
In light of the Janus decision, the teachers filed a motion for summary judgement last month, asking the court to take into account the Janus precedent and rule for the teachers. The motion asks the Court to invalidate Pennsylvania state law provisions which conflict with the teachers’ rights under Janus, striking down any authorization for mandatory union payments. On Friday, the teachers filed their opposition to the unions’ motion to dismiss the case.
The case isn’t the only one brought by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for workers challenging Pennsylvania law. In a case filed just last month, Foundation staff attorneys represent Pennsylvania school bus driver Michael Mayer, who sued after Teamsters union officials rejected his attempts to exercise his rights under Janus by resigning his union membership and informing the union it lacks his authorization for deducting dues from his paycheck.
“Thanks to the historic Foundation-won Janus precedent, teachers and school employees across the country are finally free to exercise their constitutional rights and decide for themselves whether or not union officials deserve a portion of their paycheck,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, it is critical that any authorization for public sector forced dues be permanently removed from state law, so unscrupulous union bosses cannot use unconstitutional provisions to attempt to deceive workers about their right not to fund a labor union.”
To inform workers of their legal rights under Janus, and ensure they know they can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid if union officials attempt to obstruct them from exercising those rights, the Foundation launched a special website: MyJanusRights.org.
October 5, 2018 – Officials of UNITE HERE have ordered Marriott employees out on strike across the country.
The situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-ordered strike. Employees have the right under federal labor law to rebuff union officials’ strike demands, but it is important for you to be informed about that right before you do so.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO WORK DURING A STRIKE READ ALL OF THIS SPECIAL NOTICE BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK – IT MIGHT SAVE YOU THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS!
UNITE HERE union officials have a decades long history of disciplining, fining and abusing workers who do not kow-tow to their dictates, as these reports show:
For this reason, Marriott employees may want to contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to learn how they can avoid fines and other vicious union discipline for continuing to report to work to support themselves and their families. Much of the important information about your rights can be found on our website here:
The Foundation wants you to learn about your legal rights from independent sources. You should not rely on what self-interested union officials tell you. For over four decades, Foundation attorneys have worked in the courts to protect and expand the rights of individual employees in situations such as strikes. It is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse.
Marriott employees should know they have the following rights:
1) You have the right to resign your membership in the union. If you don’t support this union, you can send it a letter resigning your membership. You cannot legally be required to be a union member.
2) You have the right to go to work even if the union bosses order a strike. Union officials can (and often do) levy onerous monetary fines against union members who work during a strike. So, you should seriously consider resigning your union membership BEFORE you return to work during a strike, which is the only way to avoid these ruinous union fines and discipline. See Union Discipline and Employee Rights. Your resignation letter must be postmarked THE DAY BEFORE you return to work, or be hand delivered BEFORE you actually return to work, ideally with a witness.
3) If you become a nonmember, you will have the right to become a "Beck objector" and pay only reduced "financial core" fees instead of full membership dues. If you become a Beck objector, you will not be forced to pay for the UNITE HERE union’s far left political and social agenda.
4) You also have the right to revoke your dues check-off and stop allowing the union hierarchy to automatically collect money from your paycheck every week while no contract is in effect. You can send letters to the union and your employer revoking your authorization to have union dues deducted from your paycheck.
5) If you wish to eject an unaccountable union hierarchy from your workplace, you have the right to sign and circulate a decertification petition to obtain a secret ballot election to do so. See Decertification Election.
Here is a sample letter for employees who wish to resign their union membership and become Beck objectors.
NOTE: Although not legally required, it is a better practice to send your letter to the union by certified mail, return receipt requested, and save a copy of your letter and the return receipt to prove delivery. If you hand deliver a letter, make sure that you have a reliable witness to the delivery. In our experience, angry and dishonest union officials often pretend they did not actually receive resignations and initiate discipline against non-striking workers anyway. A copy of the letter should also be delivered to the employer’s human resources or payroll department.
Labor Board charge: Despite Right to Work law, UFCW is illegally attempting to force Rite Aid employee to pay union dues
Grand Rapids, Michigan (October 1, 2018) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys a Michigan pharmacy worker has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 951 union for illegally forcing her to pay union dues.
Worker Kolby Klopfenstein-Snyder exercised her right to resign her membership from Local 951. However, as her charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) states, UFCW union officials have rebuffed her attempts to stop payments of union dues. The same charge was filed with the NLRB against Rite Aid, for continuing to collect union dues at the behest of UFCW officials.
Michigan’s Right to Work law makes it illegal to require union membership or payment of any union dues or fees as a condition for employment, thus permitting employees to choose for themselves whether to join or financially support a labor union. Despite the law, UFCW union bosses continue to insist that Klopfenstein-Snyder pay dues even after she resigned her membership.
The union dues deduction card UFCW officials are attempting to enforce only obligates a worker to pay as a result of union forced dues clause in a union monopoly bargaining contract or as a result of the UFCW’s internal union constitution. This means that even if the card’s language was legal, it doesn’t obligate nonmembers like Klopfenstein-Snyder to pay any dues, because Michigan’s Right to Work law bars contracts that include mandatory payments, and nonmembers are not subject to the terms of a union constitution.
This NLRB charge is not the first time that Local 951 officials have run afoul of protections for workers who choose not to join or support the union. Foundation staff attorneys assisted Rite Aid pharmacy technician Laura Fries with filing NLRB charges against UFCW Local 951 in November 2015.
According to her charge, which NLRB investigators found meritorious, Local 951 union officials threatened to have Fries fired unless she joined Local 951 and paid back union dues. Only after the NLRB issued a formal complaint against the union did UFCW officials quickly settle the case in April 2016 to avoid federal prosecution.
“Once again, rather than work to secure the voluntary support of the workers they claim to represent, UFCW union bosses have resorted to coercive tactics to attempt to stuff their pockets with forced union dues,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “As the dozens of cases Foundation staff attorneys have filed for Michigan workers demonstrate, Michigan union bosses continue to attempt to systematically undermine workers’ protections under Michigan’s popular Right to Work laws.”
“Fortunately for Michigan employees, the National Right to Work Foundation will continue defending their rights as long as union bosses continue attempting to illegally force them to pay union dues,” added Mix.
Since Michigan’s Right to Work protections were passed in late 2012, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have filed more than 100 cases for hundreds of Michigan workers to enforce their legal rights.
PA School Bus Driver Sues Teamsters Union and School District for Blocking him from Exercising Rights under Janus Precedent
Wallingford-Swarthmore school bus driver seeks return of forced dues seized in violation of Supreme Court First Amendment decision
Philadelphia, PA (September 27, 2018) – Yesterday afternoon, a school bus driver in Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation against Teamsters Local 312 and his employer, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, for violating his constitutional rights by continuing to seize forced dues from his paycheck in violation of the Supreme Court’s recent Janus v. AFSCME decision.
The driver, Michael Mayer, is seeking a refund of union fees automatically taken out of his paycheck after he resigned his union membership, along with an injunction against the school district.
Mr. Mayer resigned his union membership on July 20, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Janus decision. The Court ruled that requiring public employees to pay mandatory union dues or fees violates the First Amendment. In August, Mayer exercised his rights under Janus by hand-delivering to his employer a notice revoking his authorization for the District to deduct dues from his paycheck.
However, the Teamsters union refused to honor his resignation, and the District continued withdrawing dues from Mr. Mayer’s paycheck. Union officials cited a section of the Pennsylvania Public Employee Relations Act (PERA), which states that employees may only resign membership within fifteen days before a new monopoly contract is signed. Mayer’s lawsuit says this section of the PERA violates his rights as recognized by the Janus decision.
In the Janus case, which was briefed and argued at the Supreme Court by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the Supreme Court ruled that, unless public sector workers affirmatively consent to paying union dues or fees and knowingly waive their First Amendment right not to subsidize a labor union, the collection of dues or fees violates their constitutional rights.
In a similar case filed earlier this month, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys sued for a California state court employee who, like Mr. Mayer, resigned his union membership to exercise his rights under Janus only to be blocked from doing so by union officials and his government employer. In addition, Foundation staff attorneys are assisting workers in over a dozen legal actions across the country enforcing employees’ rights under Janus.
“Thanks to the Foundation-won Janus decision, workers like Mr. Mayer are finally free to exercise their constitutional rights and make their own decisions on whether or not to support a union,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Unfortunately, though not unsurprisingly, rather than work to earn the voluntary support of the workers they claim to represent, union officials coast-to-coast are resorting to illegal schemes to block workers from exercising their rights under the Janus decision.”
To inform workers of their legal rights under Janus, and ensure they know they can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid in the event union officials attempt to obstruct them from exercising those rights, the Foundation launched a special website: MyJanusRights.org
Oregon Government Employees Bring Class-Action Suit Seeking Return of Millions of Forced Union Fees Seized in Violation of First Amendment
Citing Janus precedent, lawsuit demands three largest Oregon public sector unions refund all mandatory union fees taken from thousands of nonmembers
Salem, Oregon (September 20, 2018) – Today, a group of Oregon public employees filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the state’s three largest public sector unions, a smaller union, and their affiliates. The suit seeks the return of millions of dollars of forced union fees collected in recent years by union officials from thousands of public sector employees who opted out of union membership or never joined to begin with.
The case was filed at the United States District Court for the District of Oregon by twelve public employees with free legal representation from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Freedom Foundation.
The suit names as defendants the three largest public employee unions in Oregon – Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503; American Federation of State, Local, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 75; and the Oregon Education Association (OEA) – along with the Association of Engineering Employees (AEE) of Oregon and their affiliated unions that received forced fees. The legal action follows the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME in June, which found that forcing public employees to fund a labor union as a condition of government employment violates the First Amendment.
Janus, which was briefed and argued at the Supreme Court by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, ruled that unless public sector workers affirmatively consent to paying union dues or fees and knowingly waive their First Amendment right not to subsidize a labor union, collection violates their constitutional rights.
Before the landmark Janus ruling, government workers in Oregon and more than twenty other states were forced to pay so-called “agency fees” even if they declined to become union members. The Oregon workers’ lawsuit seeks the return of millions of dollars taken by the defendant unions from nonmembers over the last six years, as allowed by the applicable statute of limitations.
In July, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys secured the first such refund of forced fees under the Janus decision for Oregon state employee Debora Nearman. As part of a settlement, SEIU Local 503 refunded the Department of Fish and Wildlife worker almost $3,000 that had been collected as mandatory union fees in recent years.
“For decades union officials violated workers’ constitutional rights by seizing union fees from them without their consent,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Now, thanks to the Foundation’s Janus victory, workers all across the country are standing up for their rights and demanding back their money that was taken from them in violation of the First Amendment.”
“This lawsuit simply seeks to secure the justice Debora Nearman won for thousands of other workers whose rights Oregon union bosses violated,” Mix added.
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have filed similar class-action lawsuits seeking the return of illegally seized dues in California, Connecticut, and Illinois, and are receiving more calls every day from workers seeking to exercise their rights under the Janus precedent. To assist public employees in learning about their First Amendment rights under Janus, the Foundation established a special website: MyJanusRights.org.
Three Michigan Workers Win Settlements from Union Officials in Cases to Enforce Michigan Right to Work Protections
MEA officials forced to relinquish claims for back dues after resignations, Teamsters forced to refund dues seized in violation of state law
Michigan (September 19, 2018) – In three separate legal victories, Michigan workers succeeded in defending their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work laws. All three workers resigned their union membership and sought to end any union dues payments, only to have union officials continue seizing dues.
Two of the cases involved the Michigan Education Association (MEA). After Michigan’s Right to Work law covering government employees went into effect, school district employees Ryan Woodward and Susan Junak each submitted union membership resignations and dues authorization revocations to the MEA union, only to have their revocations blocked and MEA officials threaten to collect the dues with lawsuits.
Mr. Woodward informed union officials of his resignation both verbally and twice via e-mail. Despite his repeated notifications, the MEA filed a collection lawsuit against him in Michigan state District Court in an attempt to collect more than $800 in dues for the period after his resignation. In a similar situation, Ms. Junak resigned her MEA membership by way of certified mail, but MEA officials disregarded the notice and sent her a collection notice for over $600 in dues. In both instances, MEA officials alleged that the back dues were a debt owed to the union, which could then be used to damage the workers’ credit ratings.
Both settlements required the MEA to officially recognize the resignations and end attempts to collect the dues from the period following the resignations. Additionally, the settlement requires the MEA to take proactive steps to bear the costs of restoring the credit of both school employees, because the unauthorized dues collection attempts may have improperly damaged both of their credit scores.
The third case concerns a similar situation between Gordon Alger and Teamsters Local 214. Alger, a building maintenance worker, filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) when the Teamsters union continued to deduct dues from his paycheck after he revoked his deduction authorization. The settlement requires the Teamsters officials to refund $300.
Michigan is a Right to Work state, which protects workers’ freedom to join a union and outlaws forced dues and fees as a condition of employment. All three settlements were made possible by the state’s Right to Work protections.
“These three cases show the importance of Right to Work protections in ensuring that worker rights are not abused by union officials,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Clearly, Big Labor bosses will reject or deliberately ignore resignations of their members just to keep extracting every penny of dues from workers. Thanks to Michigan’s Right to Work law, these workers are able to stand up to greedy union bosses and enforce their legal rights.”