Medical Employees File Charges Against SEIU Union for Forced Dues Policies

On April 17, 2020, employees of Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center filed charges against Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) 1199NW concerning union officials’ attempts to compel workers to pay union dues beyond what is required per federal law. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys helped the aforementioned workers file these charges at National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 in Seattle.

According to charges filed for Daniel Dalison, one of the two workers this case involves, SEIU bosses ignored his various attempts to withdraw from his union membership and pay less dues after he found out about those rights. However, the union continued ignoring his requests and taking union dues for months.

Dalison argues that union officials have deprived him off his rights according to the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision. Beck stipulates that private sector workers who opt to leave formal union membership only have to pay the part of dues that only correspond to the union’s bargaining functions. Union officials are also required to inform employees of the lower amount of union fees they’re allowed to pay under Beck by rejecting formal union membership and conducting an independent audit of the union’s expenses.

Due to Washington State not having Right to Work protections on the books, Dalison and his coworkers can be subject to union fees as a condition of employment.

In Dalison’s charge, he detailed how union officials informed him that they have a policy obligating employees to “apply in writing and appear in person with a photo ID” to pick up their own paperwork dealing with membership and dues check off authorization documents. .

Dalison argues that this policy exists only to “delay and hinder employees from exercising their rights to resign union membership and revoke their dues checkoff authorizations.”

A second employee, Roger White, placed similar charges against the SEIU bosses and believes they have overlooked two of his attempts to withdraw his union membership and assert the rights afforded to him under Beck. Although they admitted to him that “35% of the dues were spent on political and nonrepresentational activities,” SEIU officials did not even bother to reduce his dues for months, according to the charge he filed. White additionally argued that his second request should have made his dues checkoff authorization go through, given that a strike was taking place at the time and there was no active contract between Swedish Medical Center and the SEIU. Under these circumstances, any obligation White had in paying dues during that period should have been nullified.

Both charges note that SEIU 1199NW is a “repeat [National Labor Relations Act] violator.” This is the second round of federal charges against SEIU 1199NW for Dalison, who filed charges in January 2020 asserting that union officials had never given employees “adequate notice of their rights under Beck” and had refused to stop all dues deductions when he revoked his dues checkoff authorization during the strike.

“Given the unprecedented challenges healthcare workers currently face, it is especially outrageous that they also have to deal with SEIU union bosses violating their rights just to stuff the union’s coffers with more forced dues,” remarked National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “NLRB Region 19 must act swiftly and decisively to ensure that SEIU officials are held accountable for the continuing rights violations at Swedish Medical Center, but these cases demonstrate the abuses that inevitably occur when union officials are granted the power to force employees to subsidize their activities or be terminated from employment.”