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Olympia, WA (March 15, 2006) – In a bold move to the assert the legal rights of thousands of Washington public employees, a group of ten Washington State employees filed a statewide class-action civil rights lawsuit in federal court this morning challenging forced union dues seizures by the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) union and several top state officials.
The employees filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The state workers point out that since obtaining a monopoly bargaining contract over them, WFSE union officials have denied them their constitutional due process rights – and have even ordered several employees fired for refusing to pay compulsory union dues. In addition to reinstatement and damages, the suit seeks to block union officials from further threatening the jobs of other state workers who refuse to pay forced union dues.
In May 2005, WFSE union officials sent a mailing to state employees informing them they would be forced to pay compulsory union dues as a job requirement. But this notice failed to provide certain constitutionally-required safeguards of employees’ rights to ensure they are not forced to pay for more than the cost of collective bargaining. These safeguards include an audit of union expenditures and an explanation for the basis of the portions of the workers’ fees claimed to be chargeable.
WFSE union officials are also unlawfully requiring employees who wish to object to funding ideological and other non-collective bargaining activities to sign automatic payroll deduction forms. Top state officials, including Washington State Labor Relations Director Steve McClain, are named in the suit for their complicit role in carrying out the firings of dissenting state employees.
“For union officials, it’s all about the money,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “WFSE union officials’ contempt for employees’ rights and eagerness to have employees fired demonstrates they are more interested in collecting forced union dues than supposedly ‘representing’ Washington State employees.”
The state workers charge that the seizure of forced dues by WFSE union officials without due process is a violation of their constitutional rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson decision. Hudson requires union officials to provide an independently-audited disclosure of their books and justify their expenditures before seizing any forced union dues from employees.
» Read the Complaint against WFSE et al.
» Statement by Foundation Legal Information Director, Justin Hakes
» Statement of Kimberly Johnson
» Statement of Maxine Dunkelman
» Statement of Patricia Woodward
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.