Worker Advocate: Supreme Court Should Hear Case Over Wisconsin Right to Work Law’s Limit on Union “Window Period” Schemes
National Right to Work Foundation asks High Court to reconsider precedent blocking states from protecting workers’ right to cut off union payments
Springfield, VA (February 7, 2019) – The National Right to Work Foundation has submitted an amicus curiae brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a writ of certiorari in a case involving a union’s challenge to part of Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law that allows workers to cut off dues payments at any time with 30 days notice. The State of Wisconsin filed its cert petition in Allen v. International Association of Machinists in January asking the Supreme Court to take the case.
Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law, passed in 2015, makes union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary. That fundamental aspect of the law remains in effect after a separate union legal challenge to that aspect failed and is not part of the case that the Supreme Court has been asked to hear.
To ensure workers could exercise their Right to Work, a provision in the law allows employees to revoke their authorization for union officials to deduct union dues or fees at any time and requires that union officials stop these unauthorized deductions within 30 days. The provision protects workers from “window period” schemes often enforced by union officials to limit workers from revoking authorization for dues or fee deductions except for a few days annually.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that this part of the statute is preempted by federal law. The Seventh Circuit’s ruling relied on the Supreme Court’s Sea Pak v. Industrial, Technical, & Professional Employees decision issued in 1971, which the state of Wisconsin is now asking the High Court to revisit.
The Foundation’s amicus brief asks the High Court to review the Seventh Circuit’s decision because federal law allows Wisconsin to protect employees from forced payments, including from union-created limitations on cutting off dues.
As the amicus brief notes, Congress left the final decision about whether to permit, outlaw, or limit compulsory unionism to individual states under Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This includes allowing states to set a stricter standard for when union officials must halt unauthorized dues or fees deductions than the after one year maximum prescribed by the NLRA.
“Time and again, Big Labor has concocted ways to seize unauthorized dues and fees from workers’ wages through ‘window period’ schemes and other underhanded tactics,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The Foundation’s amicus curiae brief advances the widely accepted common-sense argument that Wisconsin and other states should be allowed to create additional protections for workers from compulsory unionism.”
Michigan Workers Pursue Federal Unfair Labor Practice Charges against Unions for Illegal Dues Seizures
Grand Rapids worker files NLRB charge against Teamsters, while Dearborn worker wins settlement with Ford Motor Company in ongoing case with UAW
Grand Rapids, MI (January 29, 2019) – A Michigan worker has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys because his employer has continued unlawfully deducting union dues from his paycheck for union officials, even after he instructed the union to cease taking dues from his wages.
Parnell White, employed as a driver by Head Start of Kent County in Walker, Michigan, sent a letter to International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 406 in Grand Rapids, resigning his union membership and revoking his authorization for Teamsters union officials to deduct any further union membership dues.
The letter was received by union officials on November 27, 2018, during the union’s prescribed annual 15-day “window period” to revoke dues authorization. However, the union refused to acknowledge his letter, and dues continue to be taken out of White’s paycheck and received by union officials without his permission.
White’s charge alleges that the union officials’ actions violate his rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Those illegal actions are preventing him from enjoying the protections of Michigan’s Right to Work Law which prohibits union officials from forcing workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
This charge is similar to another ongoing case in Dearborn, Michigan. There Lloyd Stoner filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and his employer, the Ford Motor Company, with free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys.
UAW union officials refused to acknowledge Stoner’s March 2018 request to stop all deductions of union dues from his paycheck. Instead, his employer continued to take union dues from his hard-earned wages and continued sending the dues to the union.
Earlier this month, Stoner won a settlement with Ford Motor Company, although the charge against UAW is still outstanding. Along with other conditions, Ford will refund any outstanding deducted dues with interest to Stoner. The company also must post public notices to employees informing them of their rights to abstain from supporting union activities. The case against the UAW continues.
“Union officials have repeatedly refused to respect workers’ legal rights in the Great Lakes State, as demonstrated by the more than 100 cases workers have filed in Michigan since Right to Work was enacted there six years ago,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Rather than win the voluntary support of rank-and-file workers, in their efforts to stuff their pockets Michigan union bosses continue to systematically violate the rights of the very workers they claim to represent.”