Columbia, South Carolina (October 30, 2009) – A local employee of Wackenhut Services, Inc, a security service provider contracted with Fort Jackson, is fighting back against compulsory unionism after union officials illegally attempted to have him fired from his job for refusing to pay forced union dues.
In September 2008, Ronald I. Paul filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging Wackenhut and International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) and its affiliated Local 339 union bosses after Wackenhut fired him in August 2008 for refraining from formal, dues paying union membership. The charges were eventually settled in December of 2008 and Paul continued his employment.
Starting in May 2009, in violation of the settlement, the employer and SPFPA union officials issued new threats against Paul’s job. Claiming that Paul’s workplace is on an “exclusive federal enclave” not protected by South Carolina’s popular Right to Work law, SPFPA union officials compelled Paul to attend a meeting and coerced him to apply for union membership as a condition to keep his job. In response, Paul filed another round of unfair labor practice charges against the union – pointing out that the union’s own contract explicitly states that formal union membership is not a condition of employment. In September, the NLRB notified Mr. Paul that his charges would be dismissed.
Attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation contacted Mr. Paul offering free legal aid (which Paul eagerly accepted), and the regional NLRB office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is now investigating Paul’s charges and additional charges filed by Foundation attorneys. Related charges against Wackenhut are also pending.
In the Foundation-won Communication Workers of America v. Beck (1988), the U.S. Supreme Court held that union officials can lawfully compel nonmembers to pay union dues as a job condition, but not the part of dues spent for non-bargaining activities like political activism, lobbying, and member-only events. Under Beck, unions must also provide such employees with an audited breakdown of chargeable expenses.
SPFPA union officials continue to threaten Paul despite the fact that they did not provide him with an adequate explanation as required under Beck for the basis of their claims against a portion of his earnings. Additionally, SPFPA union bosses are requiring employees who refrain from formal, dues paying union membership to partake in an overly burdensome process of specifying the amount of non-bargaining dues they do not wish to pay without providing them with sufficient information to make such a decision. And finally, Paul is challenging the SPFPA union’s nationwide policy of requiring employees to object every single year to paying union dues they cannot be lawfully forced to pay – rather than objecting just once.
“SPFPA union bosses have repeatedly reneged on their own word and we hope the NLRB will now hold them accountable for their thuggery,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Right to Work litigators stand guard with Mr. Paul to protect him from union bosses who will stop at nothing to seize hard earned money for their own purposes.”
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.