Union officials “hid the ball” by failing to tell worker he had no obligation to pay union fees in absence of monopoly bargaining contract
Seattle, WA (July 7, 2020) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Swedish Medical Center employee Roger White is appealing his case against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199NW to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel in Washington, D.C.
White filed federal charges against the union in April, asserting that union officials had continued to seize dues from his paycheck illegally even after twice attempting to exercise his rights to end union membership and as a nonmember pay only the portion of dues directly related to bargaining. He also argued that his second request to end membership and pay reduced dues should have actually stopped dues deductions completely, because at the time there was a strike going on and no contract in effect between Swedish Medical Center and SEIU 1199NW.
The appeal is from a decision by the NLRB Regional Director in Seattle, who claimed that SEIU officials were not obliged to inform White that he was not required to pay union fees during a contract hiatus. Foundation attorneys argue that the SEIU owed White a “duty of truth and honesty,” and decry the fact that the SEIU was able to “‘hide the ball’ and continue collecting dues” during the contract hiatus despite White’s clear “notice that he want[ed] to disassociate” from the union as much as possible.
Because Washington State has not enacted Right to Work protections for its employees, White and his coworkers can be forced to pay a fee to the union as a condition of employment when a contract so requiring is in effect. However, the fee is limited by the Foundation-won 1988 CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision to only the portion of union dues that is directly germane to the union’s bargaining functions. Union officials must also follow certain Beck procedures before collecting such fees, such as providing workers an independent audit of the union’s expenses.
White’s appeal also points out that the Regional Director’s decision completely ignores a memo on this topic from the NLRB General Counsel. The memo states that private sector employees who can be legally forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment “have rights to…object to paying for activities not germane to unions’ representational duties, to revoke dues checkoff authorizations at certain times; and to receive the information necessary to make these choices.”
The appeal notes that SEIU 1199NW is “a repeat [National Labor Relations Act] violator.” Daniel Dalison, another Swedish Medical Center employee, also has federal charges against the union. Dalison filed charges against SEIU 1199NW in January 2020 asserting that union officials had never given employees “adequate notice of their rights under Beck” and had refused to stop all dues deductions when he revoked his dues checkoff authorization during the strike. Dalison and White both also filed charges in April asserting that SEIU 1199NW officials were maintaining a requirement that any worker who wants to obtain a copy of his or her dues paperwork must present a photo ID.
Yet another employee of Swedish Medical Center, NancyEllen Elster, won a settlement with Foundation aid against SEIU 1199NW bosses in October 2019. NLRB Region 19 had found merit in Elster’s charges that SEIU bosses had never given a proper Beck rights notice to employees, and had denied her request to pay the reduced dues amount under Beck.
“It is outrageous that NLRB Region 19 is allowing SEIU union bosses to get away with playing deceptive games with the employees they claim to represent, just to keep their hard earned money rolling into the union’s coffers illegally,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The NLRB General Counsel should direct Region 19 to prosecute the SEIU for keeping Mr. White and his coworkers in the dark about their rights. These cases demonstrate the abuses that inevitably occur when union officials are granted the power to force employees to subsidize their activities or be terminated from employment.”
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 more than 250 cases nationwide per year.