SEIU officials violate workers’ rights by demanding that non-members annually object to full union dues and by charging for organizing expenditures
Seattle, Washington (June 13, 2018) – Hospital employees at Kaiser Permanente filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199 NW stating that union officials are violating their right to refrain from paying for union political activity. The charges were filed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and Freedom Foundation attorneys.
Sarina Forbes and Susan Rahn filed their charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 office in Seattle. The charges state that SEIU officials are unlawfully requiring them to annually renew their objections to paying full union dues and illegally demanding forced dues for activities that cannot legally be charged.
Neither Forbes nor Rahn is an SEIU member. Because Washington lacks a Right to Work law, non-members can be required to pay some fees to union officials as a condition of employment. However, workers cannot be required to fund activities unrelated to union bargaining, such as political action, lobbying, or organizing.
Forbes and Rahn exercised their right to object to paying full union dues and funding union activities beyond what can be legally demanded. However, SEIU union officials require them to annually renew their objections. Under the scheme, if workers do not annually renew their objections, the union reverts to seizing full dues.
In their charges, Forbes and Rahn also claim that SEIU is illegally charging non-members for organizing expenditures, including organizing employees in other bargaining units and industries.
To protect their rights, Forbes and Rahn turned to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Freedom Foundation for free legal representation. The NLRB will now investigate the charges.
Two National Right to Work Foundation-won Supreme Court decisions (Ellis in 1984 and Beck in 1988) provide some limited protection by holding that workers cannot be forced to pay union dues for certain union activity, including organizing. Further, in several cases the NLRB has ruled it unlawful for union officials to require non-members to annually renew their objections to paying full union dues.
“Forbes and Rahn both chose to hold SEIU officials accountable for their illegal demands on their hard-earned money, but stronger legal protections are critical for the future of Washington’s independent-minded workers,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union bosses incessantly abuse their forced-fees privileges at the expense of the employees they claim to represent. This case underscores the need for Washington to pass a Right to Work law making union affiliation and financial support completely voluntary.”
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.