Employee asserted right under Beck Supreme Court decision to opt-out of paying for union politics
Hawaii (April 6, 2021) – By filing federal charges against the UNITE HERE Local 5 union, Hawaii Kaiser Permanente employee Nina Chiu has successfully defended her rights under the CWA v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision. She received free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in filing her charges.
Beck was won by Foundation staff attorneys in 1988. The Court held that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) mandates that union officials cannot force private sector workers who decline formal union membership to pay union fees as a condition of keeping a job for anything unrelated to the union’s bargaining functions. This includes the union’s political expenditures. The Beck precedent also requires union bosses to provide nonmember employees with an independent audit of the union’s breakdown of expenditures, their process for determining the reduced union fee amount, and information on how to challenge the union’s determination.
Chiu, though she is not a union member, can still be forced to pay this reduced amount of union fees as a condition of employment because Hawaii lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees. Under Right to Work, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.
According to Chiu’s charge against the UNITE HERE Local 5 union, even after she submitted two letters exercising her Beck rights, she had “not received a financial breakdown and [was] still being charged the equivalent of full dues.” Consequently, her charge argued, the UNITE HERE Local 5 union breached Chiu’s rights under the NLRA, which guarantees all workers the right to “refrain from any or all” union activities.
NLRB documents now show that UNITE HERE officials have backed down and reduced Chiu’s dues payments “consistent with Union’s determined dues chargeable rates” and mailed her “the Union’s Auditor’s Report, Union’s Statement of Expenses, and procedure for challenging the Union’s dues chargeability determination.”
Chiu’s victory comes as Foundation staff attorneys assist many other workers subjected to Beck rights violations by union officials. Most recently, Foundation attorneys aided Queens, NY-based UPS employee Kamil Fraczek in filing a federal charge against Teamsters Local 804 officials, who had unlawfully demanded that he become a union member and authorize full dues deductions from his paycheck or be fired.
“While we are pleased that Ms. Chiu has successfully defended her rights under Beck to abstain from paying for union politics, employees should not have to file federal charges to get union bosses to respect their rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “That Ms. Chiu and other employees across the islands can be forced to pay anything to union bosses they have actively chosen to dissociate from again demonstrates why Aloha State legislators need to pass a Right to Work law, so union membership and financial support are 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.