Union requires workers to request appointment in writing, appear in person, and provide photo ID just to receive paperwork about stopping union dues
Seattle, WA (April 17, 2020) – Employees of Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center have filed charges against Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) 1199NW regarding union officials’ attempts to force the workers to pay union dues beyond what can be required by federal law. The charges were filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 in Seattle with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
Charges filed for Daniel Dalison, one of the two workers, recounts that SEIU bosses ignored his attempts to resign his union membership and pay reduced dues after he had discovered those rights. For months the union flouted his requests and kept seizing full union dues.
Dalison contends that the union officials have denied his rights under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision. Beck mandates that private sector workers who choose to refrain from formal union membership can only be required to pay the part of dues directly related to the union’s bargaining functions. Union bosses also must inform employees of the reduced amount of union fees they can pay under Beck by objecting to formal union membership, and must provide an independent audit of the union’s expenses.
Because Washington State has not enacted Right to Work protections for its employees, Dalison and his coworkers can be forced to pay a fee to the union as a condition of employment.
Dalison’s charge explains that when he asked for copies of any union documents he had signed, union officials informed him that they have a policy requiring employees to “apply in writing and appear in person with a photo ID” to get their own paperwork regarding membership and dues check off authorization documents.
Dalison argues that this policy exists only to “delay and hinder employees from exercising their rights to resign union membership and revoke their dues checkoff authorizations.”
A second employee, Roger White, similarly charges that SEIU bosses have disregarded two of his attempts to resign his union membership and exercise his Beck rights. Despite admitting to him that “35% of the dues were spent on political and nonrepresentational activities,” SEIU officials did not reduce his dues for months, according to his charge. White also argues that his second request should have been effective in revoking his dues checkoff authorization, as a strike was going on at the time and there was no contract in effect between Swedish Medical Center and the SEIU, nullifying any obligation he had to pay dues over that period.
Both charges note that SEIU 1199NW is a “repeat [National Labor Relations Act] violator.” This is the second round of federal charges against SEIU 1199NW for Dalison, who filed charges 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.
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. The settlement was supposed to rectify these rights violations, but SEIU officials are apparently now in violation of that settlement.
“Given the unprecedented challenges healthcare workers currently face, it is especially outrageous that they also have to deal with SEIU union bosses violating their rights just to stuff the union’s coffers with more forced dues,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “NLRB Region 19 must act swiftly and decisively to ensure that SEIU officials are held accountable for the continuing rights violations at Swedish Medical Center, but 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.