According to a lawsuit announced Tuesday, officer Darrell Koza was fired after he reported part-time Rhode Island police officers were being forced to pay a union they didn’t even belong to.
The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court against officials in the town of Westerly and Local 503 of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. While several of the officers claimed to have been harassed, Koza was actually fired after reporting the issue to the town.
“They had negotiated into their contract, somehow, that they would be taking dues from us,” Koza told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We were never notified this would take place.”
It is not uncommon for workers to be forced to pay into a union. If a majority within a workplace agrees to union representation, all employees have to pay dues. The part-time police officers, however, were forced to pay 13 percent of their paycheck to Local 503 despite not even belonging to the union. The only labor agreement in place applied and was voted on by full-time police officers.
“We had approach our police chief about the issue, we had approached the town council about the issue and the town manager,” Koza said. “I get the impression the town just brushed off our concerns.”
Essentially the union and town just decided the part-time police officers had to pay union dues regardless. Since none of them belonged to the union or were subjected to any labor agreement, they could not receive benefits, protections or even talk at union meetings. They were just forced to subsidize its activities.
“They made it pretty clear the deduction from our pay was our only involvement,” Koza continued. “We have been trying for a better course of a year to resolve the issue with the town.”
Hostility from the full-time officers and union officials grew after the part-time police officers began speaking out. The chief of police allegedly even rescheduled those part-time officers so they started getting far less hours. With growing hostility and no way to resolve their grievances, the part-time officers felt legal action was the only option left.
“This is a way for the town to take us seriously,” Koza stated. “Were interested in what they have to say.”
“Obviously this isn’t the most optimum way to solve this,” he added. “If they made a fair deal we’d be up to settle.”
The part-time officers were able to get legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation. The group advocates for worker being oppressed by organized labor.
The union, police chief and town did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
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