Thanks to the free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Disneyland stage technician recently won a settlement demanding that International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 504 union bosses return fees they illegally seized from him, and inform employees who refused to join the union of their right to pay smaller amounts of dues.
Stage technician Mark Stacy, who never joined the IATSE union as a member, exercised his rights under the Foundation-won Communications Workers of America v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court case. That decision demands that unions lower compulsory fees levied on workers who do not become members of unions, so they are not coerced into funding activities such as lobbying and political activism. The Beck decision additionally requires union bosses to provide nonmember workers an independently verified audit that details and justifies the amount of mandatory union dues they have to pay.
Due to how California private-sector employees lack Right to Work law protections, they can be fired for not paying union dues. However, union officials can collect as a condition of employment only a portion of dues Beck allows and must comply with Beck procedures prior to seizing such forced union fees from workers who do not belong to a union.
Stacy pressed federal charges against IATSE bosses at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in July of 2019, claiming that they had illegally seized union dues from him and did not follow Beck’s procedural requirements, which included giving him a valid and complete audit.
As a consequence of this settlement, IATSE bosses will return the money they gathered from him. The settlement also demands that union officials “inform objecting nonmembers of the complete basis for [the] calculation of the percentage reduction in dues and fees” and not to “accept and retain dues which have been deducted” from Stacy “without his prior written authorization.” The settlement provides remedies for all of the rights violations Stacy claims he suffered in his original charge.
Additionally, Foundation staff attorneys are providing free legal aid to a Disney actress, 12-year-old Aundrea Smith, following her claims that American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union bosses’ are threatening to use union “discipline” against her for performing in a nonunion commercial before she was a SAG-AFTRA member. Smith, who withdrew her union membership last August, currently acts in “Diary of a Future President,” a series on Disney’s streaming service.
“Mr. Stacy dedicates his working life to making children’s dreams come true, and it’s outrageous that IATSE union bosses believed they could violate the most basic protections on his workplace rights,” remarked National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While his victory is certainly good news, this case shows why California workers need the protections of a Right to Work law to ensure that union membership and financial support are voluntary, not coerced.”