Four Deaconess Hospital employees filed an unfair labor practice charge Tuesday, alleging the union charged them dues during a period without a labor contract.
Nina Bennett, Tori Denniston, Ryan Reedy, and Edgar Schlittenhart, all employees at the hospital, accused Local 1199NW of the Service Employees International Union of charging them thousands of dollars worth of unlawful dues. The 1199NW even threatened to have the workers fired for not paying dues, they said. The workers however argue they do not owe the dues because there was no contract in place at the time.
“I don’t want to lose my job over this,” Schlittenhart told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “I enjoy my job at the hospital.”
For almost a year from July 2013 to April 2014, due to a labor dispute, the hospital workers were not under any labor contract and therefore were not under any agreement which specified what dues workers owed the union.
“The union was saying that we owed dues during the dispute,” Schlittenhart continued. “We want to see this issue resolved.”
In total, Schlittenhart says he owes roughly $3,000 according to the union. If he doesn’t pay, the union wants to have him and his colleagues fired by Thursday of next week. The company is looking into the issue and will decide whether to cancel the termination or delay it until the conflict can be resolved.
“Still waiting for personnel at HR to give final word on that,” Schlittenhart noted. “They’re not taking our side; they’re just trying to stay in the middle.”
“The union has been good at setting up a repayment plan,” he concluded. “We just don’t think we owe them anything.”
The four hospital workers have been getting assistance from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTW) which Schlittenhart reached out to after finding the group on the internet.
“SEIU bosses and pliant hospital officials are attempting to force nonunion employees to pay dues for a period of time when the union didn’t even have a contract with the hospital,” NRTW President Mark Mix said in a statement.
“Forcing workers to pay dues is intolerable under any circumstances, but it’s especially absurd to charge these nonunion workers for the dubious benefits of union ‘representation’ at a time when the union lacked any sort of agreement with their employer,” he continued. “Ultimately, the only way to prevent future abuse is for Washington to adopt a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”
Local 1199NW did not respond to a request for comment from TheDCNF.
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