Louisville, Kentucky, and Dayton, Ohio (August 19, 2008) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, three UPS employees in Kentucky and two UPS employees in Ohio filed federal lawsuits Friday and Monday, respectively, against national and local Teamsters officials for illegal extraction of forced union dues.
In the lawsuits, the nonmember employees claim that the national and local unions breached their duty of fair representation and violated the employees’ First and Fifth Amendment rights by charging and collecting fees used for organizing nonunion workers throughout the United States and financing a members-only “Strike and Defense Fund.”
At UPS facilities in Louisville and Dayton, Teamsters Local 89 and Local 957 had been certified as the respective monopoly bargaining agents. With Teamsters officials in place as “exclusive representatives,” nonmember employees lose the right to negotiate with their employer on their own merits, and a compulsory unionism clause in the contract compels them to pay tribute to the union as a condition of employment.
In the Foundation-won Communication Workers of America v. Beck (1988), the Supreme Court allowed certain forced dues but established that objecting employees cannot be compelled to subsidize union activities unrelated to collective bargaining. One in a series of decisions in which the High Court ruled certain expenditures non-chargeable, Ellis v. Railway Clerks (1984) prohibits unions from charging and collecting fees from nonmembers for union organizing and member-only benefits.
Since March 2006, the union charged and collected from the nonmembers compulsory fees greater than 80 percent of the full dues and fees paid by union members. Union bosses failed to provide a required notice of Beck rights and disclosure detailing the basis of the fees until this year. The financial disclosure reveals that Teamsters’ compulsory fees include disallowed expenditures for the national union’s efforts to help organize nonunion employees in both the private and public sectors nationwide. The employees have also been forced to contribute to the “Strike and Defense Fund,” which bars benefits flowing to nonmembers.
Foundation attorneys are asking the U.S. District Courts for the Western District of Kentucky and the Southern District of Ohio to enforce the Supreme Court’s rulings in Ellis and Beck. The District Courts should prohibit the union from collecting fees used for these non-bargaining activities and award damages for the nonmember employees including all such illegal fees collected plus interest.
“It’s bad enough that employees who exercise their right to refrain from union membership are forced to pay fees to a union they do not want,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “But Teamsters bosses are violating the law by compelling nonmembers to fund strikes and organizing activities which seek to corral even more workers into forced unionism.”
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.