**Olympia, WA (March 29, 2006)** – Facing an embarrassing lawsuit filed by Washington State employees with help from the National Right to Work Foundation, Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) union officials today admitted that they wrongly ordered state government workers across the state fired for refusing to pay union dues, and have apparently asked the state to reinstate temporarily those employees and cease additional firings.
The union begrudgingly took the action today after being notified by Foundation attorneys yesterday that they would file papers in federal court on Monday seeking an injunction to block even more firings which had just been threatened. While dismissing their violation of thousands of Washington State workers’ First Amendment rights as “technical,” union officials have so far failed, however, to return literally millions of dollars in forced union dues seized from thousands of state workers as a result of these illegal “pay up or be fired” threats.
The workers’ lawsuit, filed two weeks ago in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, points 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. As many as 20,000 employees joined the union or paid dues rather than lose their jobs.
Foundation attorneys announced today that the workers’ suit will proceed as planned, and that they have received no concrete evidence that any of the terminated employees will be reinstated, any dues returned, or multiple due-process violations halted.
“WFSE officials view workers’ First Amendment rights as mere ‘technicalities,’ and are trying to backtrack after viciously ruining state employees’ careers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Any action that truly honored workers’ rights would include returning all forced union dues seized from state employees under the union hierarchy’s ‘pay up or else’ ultimatum.”
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 a verification or 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.
The state workers charge that the seizure of forced dues by WFSE union officials without due process is a violation of their constitutional rights articulated 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.
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.