A Woman Was Fired For Not Paying More Than $500 In Union ‘Fees’

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

A St. Charles, Missouri., worker was fired from her job after she refused to pay more than $500 in compulsory “agency fees” to her workplace’s union.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRWLDF) filed an official complaint on the woman’s behalf with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Monday, according to a copy of the complaint reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. Personal and identifying information on the complaint of the worker, union and employer was redacted due to the worker’s fear of retribution, according to the NRWLDF.

The union, a local shop of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, “unlawfully demanded the [worker] join the union” and pay dues in exchange for representation in the union’s collective bargaining on Feb. 1. The employee refused and filed a complaint, according to official documents.

The Teamsters local followed up with the employee in a May 10 letter that claimed she owed the union $561 in “agency fees,” a fee that independent workers in a unionized workplace pay as a condition of employment and to cover the costs of the union’s representation in salary and benefit negotiations. The agency fee is supposed to prevent free-riding without forcing the fee-payer to fund other union activities, such as political donations, that the individual may not agree with. In this case, the agency fee was equal to 98.19 percent of union dues, according to NRWLDF.

The worker found and read the May 10 letter more than two months later, and she met with a supervisor and was told to “pay, transfer jobs or be fired,” according to the complaint.

She followed up with the union in a July 31 email offering to work out a payment plan with the union to pay off the missed agency fees. She was fired the same day before a plan could be worked out, according to the complaint.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 27 that compulsory agency fees for public-sector workers infringe upon workers’ right to free speech. The ruling did not extend to workers in the private sector. It found that collective bargaining in the case of government employees is an inherently political act, so separating the bargaining from other union activities for the sake of the free speech of the fee-payer is impossible. (RELATED: The Supreme Court Just Handed Down Its Big Decision On Mandatory Dues)

Missourians will vote on a right to work referendum, called Proposition A, on August 7 which would prevent union membership or fees being required as a condition of work.

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