Seattle Hospital Employee Presses Federal Charges Against SEIU Union for Illegally Seizing Dues after Contract Expired

On January 10, 2020, Swedish Medical Center employee Daniel Dalison pressed charges against Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) 1199NW bosses and his employer for illegally seizing union dues from his paycheck when there was no contract between the union and employer going into effect. Additionally, Dalison pressed charges for ignoring two attempts he made to exercise his rights to resign from the union and pay less dues.

Dalison’s charges were filed at Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys providing legal aid.

Dalison’s charges came in as news reports surfaced about SEIU 1199NW bosses potentially ordering Swedish Medical Center employees to strike if a new contract is not approved by January 10. The Foundation’s website gives workers information about their legal rights in the absence of a contract, which includes the process by which a worker can withdraw his or her union membership and reject both union fee demands and any strike orders.

Dalison sent SEIU bosses two letters in December 2019 declaring the termination of his union membership and exercising his right under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision to only pay union dues that directly pertain to bargaining. Due to Washington lacking Right to Work protections for workers, private sector workers like Dalison, who refuse formal union membership, can be legally obligated to pay a portion of dues to stay employed.

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Dalison’s charges also mentions how his membership revocation letter should have been effectively stopping all dues seized from his paycheck because the monopoly bargaining contract between Swedish Medical Center and the SEIU union had terminated, thus no longer requiring him to pay any dues to the SEIU hierarchy. However, his charges state, neither Swedish Medical Center nor SEIU officials have replied to his requests. Further, Swedish Medical Center continues to seize full membership dues from Dalison’s paycheck at the instruction of SEIU officials.

Dalison’s charges also accuse the SEIU of never providing him or his coworkers “adequate notice of their rights” under Beck. Those rights consist of the rights to be a nonmember and not be subject to paying full union dues, and the right to be provided “disclosure of the reduced fee amount employees will have to pay if they choose Beck objector status” and an independent audit of the union’s expenditures. The charge details how SEIU bosses’ actions and omissions violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and are SEIU efforts to “trick or force nonmembers into funding its political and ideological agenda.”

Dalison’s charges came in the wake of another Swedish Medical Center employee, Nancy Ellen Elster, who filed federal charges a few months ago with Foundation aid similarly accusing SEIU bosses of never providing employees a proper Beck rights notice, and denying her request to pay the Beck reduced fee instead of the full dues. Region 19 found merit in Elster’s charges and established a settlement back in October that was intended to solve the union’s violations. Due to SEIU officials apparently violating the requirements of that settlement, Dalison’s charges demand that Region 19 resume prosecution of the SEIU for the violations in Elster’s case.

Those charges were not the only time Washington State SEIU bosses were caught red-handed violating workers’ freedoms. In October 2019, SEIU 775NW officials were compelled to settle a federal case and give back over $3 million to home-based healthcare providers in the state. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claimed that the SEIU had funneled a percentage of Medicaid payments seized from them and then proceeded to give them to the union in violation of their statutory and constitutional rights.

“Given Washington State SEIU bosses’ repeated flouting of even the most basic employee rights protections, it is understandable that Swedish Medical Center employees may begin questioning whether the threatened strike is really what is best for themselves, their families, and their patients,” stated National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Swedish Medical Center employees should know they unequivocally have the right to resign their union memberships and avoid all union fee demands and strike orders in the absence of a contract.”

“If SEIU bosses further refuse to comply with Swedish Medical Center employees’ legal rights, other rank-and-file workers there should immediately contact the Foundation for free legal aid,” continued Mix.

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