Illegal seizures came after multi-billion-dollar Big Labor political spending
A massive UAW embezzlement scandal didn’t stop UAW officials from ignoring at least two attempts by Roger Clemons to exercise his right to stop subsidizing union political activity.
ROCHESTER, NY – Even after a sweeping federal corruption probe that has resulted in jail sentences for at least 12 union executives, it seems some United Auto Workers (UAW) officials haven’t learned their lesson regarding misuse of worker funds.
Rochester General Motors employee Roger Clemons this January won a settlement forcing UAW officials at his plant to stop illegally funneling money from his paycheck into union politics. Clemons filed federal charges in September 2021 against UAW Local 1097 and the UAW’s international branch, after union agents ignored his requests to opt-out of funding the union’s political agenda. He received free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
A Foundation-won settlement required UAW international and local officials to give back to Clemons all money that was deducted from his paycheck in violation of the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision. Beck forbids union officials from forcing workers under their control to fund union politics.
Because New York State lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, union officials can legally force workers to pay a reduced amount of union dues under threat of termination. In Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.
UAW Chiefs Repeatedly Violated Worker’s Beck Rights
Clemons stated in his September 2021 charge against UAW Local 1097 officials that UAW officials had a history of flouting his Beck rights, failing to reduce his union dues even after he ended his union membership and became a “Beck objector” in October 2019. “Only after Mr. Clemons filed an [earlier] unfair labor practice charge . . . did the union comply with the requirements of the law,” the charge noted, detailing that union officials finally sent him rebate checks in June and July 2020 for excess dues they took from his paycheck.
However, UAW officials continued to create obstacles for Mr. Clemons’ Beck rights. The September 2021 charge asserted that despite Clemons renewing his Beck objection in October 2020, he then did not receive “a single rebate check or a reduction in the dues deducted from his wages” for almost a year.
Clemons also charged General Motors for its role in enforcing the illegal dues deductions.
The settlement now forbids UAW officials from “accept[ing] dues or fees which have been deducted from the paycheck of Roger Clemons, or any other Beck objector, which are in excess of the amount we can lawfully charge to Beck objectors.” UAW officials also have returned dues that they seized from Clemons above the reduced Beck amount.
Union officials devote enormous sums to political activity. A report the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) released in 2021 revealed that union officials’ own Department of Labor filings show over $2 billion in political spending during the 2020 election cycle, primarily from dues-stocked union general treasuries. Another study found that actual union spending on political and lobbying activities likely topped $12 billion during the 2020 cycle.
Union Bosses Likely to Splash Cash on 2022 Midterm Elections and Beyond
“Rank-and-file workers should know they have a right to refuse to fund union politics, especially with union political spending in 2020 having approached record numbers and midterm elections coming up,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse. “Workers under UAW control, like Mr. Clemons, have special reason to be on guard, given the UAW’s perennial interest in politics, and because several UAW officials now find themselves behind bars for embezzlement and corruption.”