Washington, D.C. (June 21, 2005) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today applauded the Department of Labor’s (DOL) announcement yesterday that it will step up enforcement of President Bush’s executive order regarding forced union dues, but warned that far more must be done before employee rights are truly protected.
Signed by President Bush on February 17, 2001, Executive Order 13201 affects a small segment of the 12 million American employees compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment. The order requires companies with federal contracts to inform workers of their rights under the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Communications Workers v. Beck.
Foundation attorneys won the Beck ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988, establishing that objecting employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act may resign their formal union membership, and reclaim all forced union dues spent on activities other than collective bargaining, such as political expenditures.
In its announcement, DOL notified federal contractors that it will be spot-checking federal workplaces to assure that they are in compliance with the order.
“Though largely symbolic, President Bush’s executive order is a step toward curbing compulsory unionism abuse. Unless the National Labor Relations Board gets more serious about enforcing 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 Foundation.
Implementation of the executive order’s modest protections was stalled by a spurious lawsuit filed by the United Auto Workers union crafted to deny workers access to information about their rights. Ultimately, with the help of Foundation attorneys, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld the executive order.
Experts estimate that during the 2004 elections, union officials spent more than $800 million in workers’ dues on electioneering 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 far from a cure-all. Nevertheless, the Foundation’s free legal aid program has ensured that hundreds of thousands of workers are not paying for union political activities against their will.
“No one should be forced to join or pay dues to a union against their will,” stated Gleason. “While the DOL’s announcement is encouraging, the ultimate solution to truly guarantee workers’ rights is to abolish compulsory unionism, not to fashion new regulatory schemes and government bureaucracies to regulate its ill effects.”
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.