(The Center Square) — A Washington worker has won a settlement against his employer on the grounds that his labor rights were allegedly violated by unfair union dues.
The lawsuit names Daniel Dalison as a plaintiff and his employer, Pacific Building Services, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU6) Property Services NW as defendants.
In 1988’s CWA v. Beck, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that unions may collect from nonmembers only the dues necessary to exercise its collective bargaining duties. Under the ruling, unions must provide independent audits of their expenses before charging such dues.
The rights outlined in the landmark case are commonly referred to as “Beck rights.”
Dalison’s lawsuit alleges that SEIU6’s welcome packet misinformed him that he maintained his Beck right to object to paying full union dues for at least a 31-day window after his hire date.
Federal legal precedent maintains that employers may not deduct union fees directly from employees’ paychecks without affirmative consent, regardless of their membership status.
After receiving the information packet from his employer, according to the lawsuit, Dalison sent letters to the union “stating that he did not want union membership” stating that he wanted to pay only the fees necessary to stay on the job.
He also asked the union to conduct an independent audit of its expenses and requested a copy of the bargaining contract between it and Pacific Building Services.
According to the lawsuit, the union claimed their records showed Dalison was indeed a union member and thus required to pay his union dues.
Under the settlement, SEIU officials must return the portion of Dalison’s dues and provide the financial audit and copy of the bargaining contract he requested.
They also agreed to revise their welcome packet to include information about employees’ rights, not to use a single form for both union membership and dues deduction authorization, and not to claim that employees can only exercise their rights under Beck during a 31-day window.
Dalison was represented pro bono by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
“Unfortunately, Washington State SEIU bosses are repeat offenders when it comes to violating workers’ rights just to collect additional union dues and fees,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “Although this victory for Daniel Dalison is a welcome development, his cases show why Washington State workers need Right to Work protections that ensure all union financial support is voluntary so unions cannot so easily play fast and loose with their forced dues powers.”
Earlier this year, Dalison sued SEIU 1199NW officials for allegedly requiring photo ID to view union paperwork at previous workplace of Swedish Medical Center. The case is awaiting review.
The National Right to Work Foundation is also attempting to get a related Washington labor law case reheard by the courts.