Patricia Woodward, a 21-year Washington state employee for the Department of Licensing, had her job claimed by union coercion. In May 2005, Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) union officials sent letters out threatening state employees that they would be forced to pay union dues or be fired from their jobs. However, the notification failed to include certain constitutionally required safeguards, including one’s right not to pay for union political activities. When many employees refused to pay, WFSE officials ordered several workers fired.

Refusing to tolerate this assault on their freedom, ten state employees, led by Pat, filed a class-action civil rights lawsuit with the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Their suit asserted that WFSE officials infringed upon the employees’ individual constitutional rights with the unlawful “pay up or be fired” threats. In addition to achieving all of the workers’ reinstatement, the suit protected other employees from further threats to their jobs from WFSE officials. Pat’s experience has since been a valuable reminder of the threat posed to workers’ livelihoods by compulsory unionism in states like Washington.

Pat in Her Own Words

“I was terminated simply for not giving my money to a union that I disagree with and that I don’t believe represents me.” –Patricia Woodward, commenting on WFSE union officials’ order to have her fired

“To me, being forced to join or support a union seems un-American.” –Patricia Woodward comments on the injustice of compulsory unionism

“I am anxious to be returning to work?but then, we don’t know exactly what is going to happen.” –Patricia Woodward, speaking to a reporter after National Right to Work Foundation attorneys helped get her job back

“I am sad for others at work; both employees and supervisors were and still are afraid to speak up against the union?The phrase I most heard was ‘I want to fight the union, but I can’t afford to lose my job.'” –Patricia Woodward, explaining how she felt after she was able to return to her job

WFSE Union Officials in Their Own Words

“You can choose to be a member of the union, you can choose to pay a fee. But ultimately, if you don’t like that, you can choose to be unemployed.” –WFSE union official Tim Welch supports firing workers that refuse to pay union dues

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