CWA officials illegally refused worker’s membership resignation and request to stop dues deductions

Phoenix, AZ (April 6, 2023) – CenturyLink Communications employee Adrianna Delatorre has forced Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7019 union officials to back down in her federal case, in which she charged them with seizing dues money illegally from her wages. Delatorre, who filed charges against both the CWA union and her employer at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in May 2022, received free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

Delatorre asserted in her charges that CWA union bosses violated her rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by rejecting her clear notice that she was resigning union membership and ending union dues deductions from her paycheck. The NLRA guarantees American private sector employees the right to “refrain from any or all” union activities, with some restrictions not applicable to Delatorre.

Delatorre’s right to cut off financial support to the CWA union she opposes is fully protected by Arizona’s Right to Work law, which prohibits union bosses from mandating union membership or any dues payment as a condition of getting or keeping a job. In contrast, in non-Right to Work states like Colorado or New Mexico, union officials have the power to force workers to pay union fees just to stay employed.

A Foundation-won settlement now requires CWA union officials to pay back to Delatorre all illegally-taken dues, and to refrain in the future from illegally rejecting employees’ requests to stop dues deductions.

CWA Union Blatantly Ignored Worker Request

Delatorre submitted letters to CWA union officials and CenturyLink management in March 2022, informing both that she was terminating her union membership and revoking any dues deduction authorization document. Both union and company officials denied this request and CenturyLink management continued to seize money from Delatorre’s pay at the union’s behest. Delatorre hit her employer and the union with federal unfair labor practice charges in May 2022.

Notably, the dues deduction authorization document (or “checkoff’) that Delatorre revoked did not specify any time limits on when employees could cut off dues, nor did it provide that dues deductions were handled separately from union membership. Delatorre’s Foundation-provided attorneys argued that, on those grounds, Delatorre’s demand to stop union financial support should have been effective as soon as she submitted her letter ending her membership.

CWA union officials have now backed down and settled the case. In addition to paying back to Delatorre all money unlawfully taken from her paycheck since the date she resigned her membership, CWA union officials must also post a notice in Delatorre’s CenturyLink Tower workplace stating that they will not “cause or attempt to cause an employer to deduct union dues from an employee’s paycheck without having a valid dues deduction authorization signed by the employee.” As part of the settlement, CenturyLink must also not “render unlawful assistance and support to the Union.”

Employee Defended Rights Under AZ Right to Work Law, but Union-Label DC Politicians Plan to Eliminate Right to Work Nationwide

“Foundation staff attorneys are proud to have helped Ms. Delatorre successfully defend her right under federal law and Arizona’s Right to Work law to refrain from sacrificing part of her hard-earned pay to CWA union officials,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, it’s important to remember that there are forces within the NLRB – including General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, previously a top CWA lawyer – and at other levels of the current Administration pushing for full implementation of the so-called ‘PRO’ Act’s provisions. The ‘PRO-Act’ would ultimately eliminate workers’ Right to Work protections by federal fiat, giving union officials the power to extort millions of additional workers for dues money under threat of termination.”

“Right to Work laws let workers like Ms. Delatorre withhold money from union hierarchies, which often pursue agendas completely out of touch with the rank-and-file the union bosses claim to ‘represent.’ This gives individual employees a way to hold union officials accountable for how they wield government-granted monopoly power over workers,” Mix added.

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 about 200 cases nationwide per year.

Posted on Apr 6, 2023 in News Releases