Settlements require union officials to immediately recognize workers who refuse to pay for union politics, Penn Aluminum officials must attend mandatory training
Murphysboro, IL (February 28, 2023) – Penn Aluminum International employee Mary Beck has successfully forced International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 702 union officials to stop illegally demanding money from her paycheck. National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys represented her for free before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Beck hit both the IBEW union and her employer with federal charges in June 2022, maintaining that union dues were coming out of her paycheck under a defective contract, and that union officials had ignored her resignation of union membership and her request to pay only the amount of dues necessary to keep her job under federal law. She added additional charges in August 2022, stating that union officials had acknowledged her demand, but threatened to get her fired if she didn’t pay an unspecified amount of money to the union.
Beck filed charges to defend her rights under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision, which forbids union officials from having employees in non-Right to Work states like Illinois fired for refusal to pay for union politics and other expenses outside the union’s “representation” functions.
Because Illinois lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, union officials can compel workers in facilities under union control to pay only the reduced amount of union fees under CWA v. Beck as a condition of employment. In contrast, in Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.
Beck’s Foundation-provided attorneys have now won settlements requiring IBEW union officials going forward to immediately recognize both membership resignations and employee requests to pay reduced union fees under CWA v. Beck. IBEW bosses must also pay back to Beck all money seized illegally from her paycheck. The settlements also stipulate that Penn Aluminum management attend mandatory training on how to properly respond to employee requests to end union membership and refrain from full dues deductions.
IBEW Union Bosses Blew Off Worker Requests for Months, Then Threatened Her Termination
Beck’s charges stated that IBEW union officials didn’t acknowledge her January 2022 and March 2022 requests to end union membership and stop full dues deductions until July 2022, when they finally sent her a copy of the union contract and ended dues deductions. However, they still demanded she pay an indefinite amount of union fees to keep her job. Beck’s August 2022 charge also pointed out that the union contract did not contain language allowing IBEW bosses to take advantage of their legal privilege to force all employees to pay an amount of union fees as a condition of employment.
Union officials in an August 9 letter threatened to terminate Beck by August 15 if she didn’t pay union fees. “The letter failed to provide Charging Party with the exact amount the Union claims she owes or a reasonable opportunity for her to pay those alleged fees,” Beck’s amended charge says. Both are required by longstanding precedents.
Beck’s charges argued that the union’s continued deduction of dues after her March letter and demands for union fees without a valid contract in place violated her rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Illinois Case Shows That Federal Labor Law Doesn’t Respect Worker Free Choice
“We’re pleased that Ms. Beck has successfully vindicated her right to opt out of paying for union politics and other activities she doesn’t support,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, as her case demonstrates, federal law still lets union officials stifle full freedom of association for Ms. Beck and millions of employees across the country who work in non-Right to Work states.”
“The Foundation-won CWA v. Beck decision gives workers in non-Right to Work states at least the opportunity to stop paying for the ideological activities of a union they oppose. But no American worker should be forced to sacrifice a part of their pay for any unwanted union activities, including union bosses’ so-called ‘representation’ which may actually work against employee interests,” Mix added. “Every American worker deserves the protection of a Right to Work law.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.