**Washington, DC (November 10, 2006)** – In their opening brief filed last night, a group of teachers receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to bar union officials’ pervasive national practice of forcing nonunion employees to affirmatively object to stop the use of their forced dues for union politics.
Foundation attorneys filed the arguments in their pending U.S. Supreme Court appeal challenging a Washington State Supreme Court ruling which gave union officials a constitutional “right” to spend forced dues to promote political causes with which teachers may disagree. In September, the nation’s highest court granted review of the ruling that voided a campaign finance law seeking to limit the misuse of mandatory dues for certain political activities. Oral argument is January 10, 2007.
Lead counsel Milton Chappell, a 30-year Foundation veteran in assisting union-abused employees, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the controversial decision of the Washington State Supreme Court which somehow found a constitutional “right” for union officials to spend compulsory dues on certain politics after seizing those dues from employees who are not union members. The novel finding was the basis used by the court to strike down Washington’s ineffective state campaign finance law – often called “paycheck protection” – which sought to regulate a small fraction of the mandatory union dues union officials actually spend on political and ideological activity.
Importantly, the teachers’ brief asked the High Court to clarify that the court had never approved a pervasive union procedure designed to force nonunion members to pay full union dues, including hundreds of dollars per employee which are spent for a wide array of activities unrelated to collective bargaining. A victory on this argument would dramatically increase the impact of previous Supreme Court rulings won by Foundation attorneys establishing that nonunion employees cannot be lawfully compelled to pay for politics, lobbying, organizing, and a wide array of other non-bargaining activities.
If allowed to stand, the Washington State Supreme Court decision in *Davenport v. Washington Education Association (WEA)* and *Washington v. WEA* – which, as Justice Richard B. Sanders’ three-member dissent pointed out, “turns the First Amendment on its head” – could open the door for union attorneys to try to undermine America’s 22 state Right to Work laws, which make union affiliation and dues payment strictly voluntary.
While seeking to overturn this dangerous precedent, Foundation attorneys are opening up the offensive line of attack by asking the High Court to clarify its 45-year-old “dissent is not to be presumed” statement. Union officials have exploited that phrase from a 1961 ruling to force employees who resign union membership to take the additional affirmative step of objecting annually to cut off the use of their forced dues on politics and other non-bargaining functions.
“This case underscores why no American worker should be coerced into paying any dues to an unwanted union in the first place,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the Foundation. “Union officials have placed immense burdens on workers to ‘recover the stolen loot’ since the absence of a Right to Work law allows the theft in the first place.”
Foundation attorneys filed the suit, *Davenport v. WEA*, in 2001 for more than 4,000 Washington teachers who are not union members, but are still forced to pay dues or be fired. The Washington State Attorney General Robert McKenna also filed supporting arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court in his related case, *Washington v. WEA Union*, on behalf of the state.
For more information visit the Foundation’s Davenport v. WEA case page
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.