Suffolk County, NY (January 14, 2014) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a local teacher has reached a settlement with two unions after union officials kept in the union treasury dues she paid that were supposed to have gone to charity.
Maureen Stavrakoglou is employed by the Brentwood School District, which requires all teachers to pay dues to the Brentwood Teachers Association (BTA) union and its state affiliate, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union, as a condition of employment. However, teachers with sincere religious objections to supporting a union can request to have their union dues redirected to a mutually agreed-upon charity.
In 2005, BTA and NYSUT union officials came to an agreement with Stavrakoglou that redirected all of her NYSUT dues to charity. After the agreement was finalized, Stavrakoglou asked union officials to redirect her dues for 2006-2007 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The BTA’s president subsequently assured Stavrakoglou that her dues would be sent to the designated charities.
From 2006 to 2013, Stavrakoglou designated a new charity each year as the recipient of her union dues. However, at least two of the charities she chose – The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation – never received a donation from the union under Stavrakoglou’s name. A third charity, The NYC Firefighters’ Burn Center Foundation, only received Stavrakoglou’s donation after she called union officials to inquire about the status of her dues. After discovering that union officials were not following through on their promises, Stavrakoglou filed suit in Suffolk County Supreme Court in 2011.
Stavrakoglou’s settlement requires the unions to make up for every missed donation from 2006 to 2013, plus interest, to the charities she designated. The NYSUT union is also required to assign a staff attorney to oversee the charitable payment process and ensure Stavrakoglou’s future donations are made in a timely fashion.
“After assuring Maureen Stavrakoglou that they would respect her religious objections and redirect her dues to charity, teacher union bosses brazenly kept the money for themselves,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
“We’re happy to report that Mrs. Stavrakoglou’s donations will finally be honored,” continued Semmens. “However, this type of abuse will continue as long as unions are permitted to force employees to pay union dues just to get or keep a job. That’s why New York needs a Right to Work law, which would make the payment of union dues strictly 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 around 250 cases nationwide per year.