A deputy attorney general in New Jersey has sued the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) for allegedly refusing to follow federal disclosure requirements.
James Bennett, who works for the Department of Law and Public Safety, filed the suit with help from the National Right to Work Foundation.
“Bennett’s suit alleges that although Local 33 union officials purportedly charge him the maximum amount of forced union fees allowed under state law, they have failed to follow the federal disclosure requirements outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hudson,” a press release from the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTW) detailed.
“Bennett is asking the court to stop the illegal union deductions from his paychecks and order a refund of all illegally-seized union dues and fees, plus interest,” the press release continued.
Though Bennett is not a member of Local 33, he is still required to pay dues because by New Jersey state law, nonmembers are required to pay what is known as fair-share dues to cover the cost of representation.
“Nonmembers have the right to object to paying for union activities unrelated to the union’s duties as the bargaining representative and to obtain a reduction in dues and fees of such activities,” the Notification of Employee Rights under the National Labor Relations Act notes.
According to 1986’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, unions are required to report financial transactions in order to prevent a union from using dues payments for political activities the worker objects to.
“Under an agency shop agreement, procedural safeguards are necessary to prevent compulsory subsidization of ideological activity by nonunion employees who object thereto while at the same time not restricting the union’s ability to require any employee to contribute to the cost of collective bargaining activities,” the decision for the case noted.
“The fact that nonunion employees’ rights are protected by the First Amendment requires that the procedure be carefully tailored to minimize an agency shop’s infringement on those rights,” the decision continued. “And the nonunion employee must have a fair opportunity to identify the impact on those rights and to assert a meritorious First Amendment claim.”
New Jersey’s electricians pull in on average more than $77,000 per year, and are likely due for more wage leverage, as demand for their work is on the rise.
The IBEW had not responded to requests for comment at time of publishing.
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