Case underscores need for Right to Work protections for workers
Burlington, WA (November 12, 2014) – A local Fred Meyer grocery store worker has filed a federal charge against the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 21 union for refusing to follow federal disclosure requirements and confiscating more than the legally-permitted amount of forced union fees from her paychecks.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Deborah Kohut of Mount Vernon filed the federal unfair labor practice charge Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Because Washington does not have Right to Work protections for workers, workers can be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. However, under Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent, nonmember workers can refrain from paying for politics and many other union activities.
Under federal labor case law, union officials must also provide workers with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures. This procedural safeguard helps inform workers of how their forced union dues are being spent and makes it less difficult for workers to hold union officials accountable.
Because UFCW union officials failed to provide a breakdown of expenditures that complied with federal disclosure requirements, Kohut, who was recently hired at a Fred Meyer store in Burlington, refused to sign a union dues deduction authorization – a document used by union officials to automatically collect dues from workers’ paychecks. In response, UFCW union officials have levied an additional fee on top of Kohut’s forced dues payments.
UFCW union officials also threatened her with job termination to force her to pay the full union member initiation fee, even though nonmember workers can pay a reduced initiation fee.
“UFCW union officials are retaliating against this worker for simply exercising her right to refrain from full union dues payments,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case underscores the need for Washington to pass Right to Work protections for its workers.”
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for workers. Recent public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.