A Tennessee nuclear power plant worker is accusing his company of illegally forcing him to pay union fees, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
Bill Bauer knew that Tennessee was a right-to-work state. So when Williams Plant Services (WPS) told him some union fees would be automatically deducted from his paycheck, he became immediately suspicious. The company provides temporary maintenance workers to a nuclear power plant run by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
“They said I didn’t have to join but I had to pay three and a half percent of my wages,” Bauer told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “So the union can represent me.”
“What they were doing was inappropriate,” he continued. “I knew Tennessee was a right-to-work state.”
The policy, which has passed in 25 states, outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Despite the law, WPS made it clear to Bauer that he had to pay a fee to Local 1323 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The company didn’t inform him of the fees until after he drove down from his home in Pennsylvania to work.
“I came home and said I didn’t want to pay three and a half percent of my wages,” Bauer went onto say. “I’ve never had to pay a union.”
Under current federal law, no one can be forced to join a union. In states without right-to-work laws, however, unions can charge a fee to nonunion workers. Known as a fair-share fee, its charged under the assumption that nonunion workers benefit from the union’s policies.
“My thoughts on this, somehow or another, the union came to the conclusion they can require people to pay fees,” Bauer said. “If the lawyers are correct, one must think or believe Tennessee Valley Authority must have known at some point the union could not force people to pay this fee.”
The only exception to the rule that Bauer could find was military bases or federally owned property. The nuclear power plant he was going to temporarily work at was neither. After doing his own research on the matter, he connected with the National Right to Work Foundation for legal assistance. The group advocates for worker choice when it comes to union representation.
“At this point in my life, I am looking to retire in a couple of year,” Bauer noted. “I’m not looking at getting a pension plan through the union.”
WPS, TVA and the union did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
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