On December 15, 2020, Nina Chiu, an employee of the Kaiser Permanente branch in Kalihi, Hawaii, took legal action against the UNITE HERE Local 5 union at her placement of employment. Attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation provided Chiu with free legal aid in pressing for legal action against the union.
Chiu filed her charge at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 20 in San Francisco. The charge detailed that she “sent two letters to the union within the last six months asserting” her rights as prescribed by the CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision, which the Foundation previously won. Beck prohibits union bosses from compelling employees who are against union membership to pay dues for any union activities not directly related to the union’s bargaining functions, most notably, the union’s political expenditures. According to a previous NLRB ruling, the Beck decision makes it clear that nonmembers must receive an independent audit of the union’s expense reports.
Due to Hawaii’s lack of a Right to Work law, Chiu can still be forced to pay some union fees as a condition of maintaining her employment. However, union officials still have to comply with the requirements set forth by the Beck decision if they force employees to make union payments under the threat of being fired.
Chiu’s charge asserted that even after she submitted two letters exercising her Beck rights, she has yet to receive “a financial breakdown and is still being charged the equivalent of full dues.” As a result, her charge contends that the UNITE HERE Local 5 union has violated Chiu’s rights in accordance to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Under the NLRA, workers are guaranteed the right to “refrain from any or all” union activities.
“Once again, UNITE HERE union bullies have been caught forcing dissenting employees into subsidizing the union’s agenda in clear violation of the rights of rank-and-file workers,” stated National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The willingness of union bosses to violate longstanding law just to line their own pockets demonstrates, once again, why Aloha State workers need the protection of a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and financial support strictly voluntary.”
With a Biden presidency, the National Right to Work Committee will likely be very busy litigating many cases involving union coercion. A potential Democrat trifecta will enable union bosses to run loose and harass workers who refuse to unionize.
Thankfully NRTW will be there to keep these unions in check.