Union officials confiscate nearly $10,000 in illegal union dues
Salt Lake City, UT (February 25, 2013) – Four Progress Rail Services Corporation workers have filed a lawsuit alleging the company and a local union violated their rights under Utah’s popular Right to Work law and illegally coerced them into paying thousands of dollars in union dues.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the four workers – Bryan Rees, James Rogers, Richard Simone, and Jason Wilson – filed the lawsuit against Progress Rail and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen/International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 6601 union in the Third Judicial District Court in Salt Lake County.
IAM Local 6601 union officials enjoy monopoly bargaining powers over the workplace. In about May 2006, Local 6601 union officials and Progress Rail, which repairs railroad cars, negotiated a contract that contained a forced dues clause that requires all covered employees to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. However, under Utah’s Right to Work law, workers cannot be compelled to pay union dues or fees to get or keep a job.
All four workers allege in the suit that when they started working at Progress Rail at various dates between December of 2005 and August 2011, union officials informed them that union membership and full dues payments were a condition of their employment. As a result, union officials confiscated up to nearly $10,000 in illegal union dues payments from the workers’ paychecks until October 2012, months after the workers found out about their rights under Utah’s Right to Work law.
Under Utah’s Right to Work law, workers have the unconditional right refrain from union membership and dues payments.
“For years, IAM Local 6601 union bosses kept workers in the dark about their rights and took thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money in violation of Utah’s popular Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The union’s careless disregard for these workers’ rights underscores the need for more states to pass Right to Work protections for their workers.”
Utah enacted its Right to Work law in 1955. Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.