Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center discusses an upcoming decision in the lawsuit of a Boeing employee who claims his union violated his right to refrain from paying for unwanted union activities
Washington Policy Center
The 1988 Supreme Court Beck decision says unions can only collect fees and dues necessary for collective bargaining from non-members. That’s why a Boeing worker, who is a non-member, is suing the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union. He claims the union violated his right to refrain from paying for unwanted union activities.
The Center Square reports that Don Zueger, a technician at Boeing’s Auburn, Washington, plant filed a suit May 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington saying, “The Union is violating the duty of fair representation by requiring Zueger to fund a portion of its non-chargeable political, ideological, and non-representational activities at the District and Local Lodge level.”
Washington is not a right-to-work state — one that has enacted legislation saying no individual can be forced to join or pay dues or fees to a labor union as a condition of employment. And the Supreme Court’s Janus decision only applies to workers in the public sector. In Janus vs. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, justices ruled it was unconstitutional to force public-sector employees to subsidize unions.
Without worker protections in Janus or right-to-work legislation, private-sector employees in Washington can be legally obligated to pay any union dues or fees. The Beck decision at least attempts to protect workers from financing politics with which they disagree. It will be interesting to see the court’s response to Zueger.
Some workers aren’t aware of the Beck decision or their Janus rights. I hope this current case and news surrounding it help get them better informed. The union isn’t likely to offer employees clear, unbiased information about the issue of financing its political activities. Workers say they aren’t informed about their options from the state or the unions that say they represent them.
Public employees should check out OptOutToday.com, a website and campaign of the Washington-state-based Freedom Foundation. It informs public employees in all states of their options when it comes to financing political ideology.
Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and the director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident.