On July 10, 2019, an ESPN employee based in Oregon filed an unfair labor practice charge against the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) union. This employee claims that union officials illegally threatened to fire him unless he paid thousands of dollars in union dues. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation helped the ESPN employee file this charge at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Jeremy Brown, the ESPN employee filing the charge, states that since April 1 he withdrew his membership in NABET. In doing so, he would only have to pay part of the union fees chargeable to nonmembers according to federal law.
However, there is a twist. Because Oregon is not a Right to Work state, thus making union membership and financial support voluntary, private sector employees that are under the thumb of the monopoly bargaining power of a union still have to pay union officials fees as a condition of employment.
The Supreme Court has established certain precedents which protect employees from compulsory union fees. The Foundation won the 1998 CWA v. Beck ruling which mandates that unions only charge fees directly related to bargaining to employees who refuse to join a union.
Additionally, courts and the NLRB have required that unions provide financial explanations to nonmembers of how these reduced fees are calculated. Without this kind of financial breakdown, unions officials are not legally allowed to demand fees from nonmember employees.
Brown’s charge argues that those stipulations were ignored by NABET union officials who demanded an initiation fee of $6,456 and an additional $3,429.60 in past dues from him in a letter. On top of that, they threatened to fire Brown if he did not pay up.
The charge states that, despite Brown’s refusal to pay, NABET has not “provided him with a reduction of the fee to an amount that includes only lawfully chargeable costs or notice of the calculation of that amount.”
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix stated, “Rather than respect workers’ legal rights, NABET-CWA union bosses are threating Jeremy Brown’s livelihood in their greedy rush to stuff their coffers with forced union dues.”
The Right to Work organization president added, “This case, like thousands of others, shows why every worker in America needs the protection of a Right to Work law guaranteeing that that all union membership and financial support is strictly voluntary and the choice of each individual.”
With Right to Work being law of the land in 27 states, their efforts have carried over into the federal level in cases like Janus v. AFSCME. Right to Work re-asserts foundational freedoms such as the right to free association, and has proven to be one of the select few causes that the American Right has made considerable progress in.