Washington, DC (August 19, 2011) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) invalidated two unions’ policies that forced nonunion workers to annually renew their objection to funding union political activism within a narrow window period. The decisions result from unfair labor practice charges filed by employees against the United Steel Workers (USW) union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union. All of the employees were assisted by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Under the Foundation-won precedent Communication Workers v. Beck, nonunion employees can only be forced to pay union dues for activities related to workplace bargaining. Although workers cannot be compelled to subsidize unrelated activities – such as union political spending or members-only events – IBEW and USW union officials would not accept employees’ permanent objections and instead required nonunion workers to annually restate their opposition to subsidizing union politics.
In the case of the IBEW, union officials required nonunion employees to restate their objection to union political spending every November. USW officials designated a similar 30 day window period for nonunion employees to renew their opposition to subsidizing union political activities. Under both schemes, union officials could “flip” nonunion workers back to paying full dues if they didn’t jump through the unions’ administrative hoops during the designated window periods.
The Board’s decisions require both unions to get rid of their annual objection policies and notify all employees in their respective bargaining units they no longer have to renew their objection to union political spending.
“We’re happy to report that all nonunion employees subject to IBEW and USW union monopoly bargaining need only submit a single, permanent objection to get out of funding union politics,” said Patrick Semmens, legal information director for the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, nonunion workers can still be forced to pay some union dues just to get or keep their jobs, something that can only be solved through state Right to Work laws.
In recent years, litigation spearheaded by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys has helped roll back similar annual objection policies at several major unions, including the International Association of Machinists and the Communication Workers of America.
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 more than 250 cases nationwide per year.