A union in California agreed to pay thousands of dollars to employees who said labor bosses siphoned money from their paychecks.
Nearly 60 employees refused to sign on to join Teamsters Local 848 in Long Beach last year to avoid paying the portion of membership dues that go towards political spending. One of the workers, Nelson Medina, claimed in a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board that the union threatened to get him fired if he did not fully sign on. None were fired, but full membership dues were taken out of their paychecks against their wishes.
The union settled in February with reimbursements to the workers that totaled $5,650.
Private-sector employees can be forced to pay union dues as a term of employment in California, which has rejected right-to-work legislation. But workers can still opt out of union membership, which allows them to avoid funding partisan political spending. The Teamsters Union, for example, spent $3.2 million on the 2020 election—97 percent of which went to Democrats.
Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, which represented Medina, said the settlement shows the Teamsters knew they broke the law.
"Teamsters officials violated Supreme Court precedent going back decades just so they could force the rank-and-file workers they claim to ‘represent' into funding union political dealings," Semmens told the Free Beacon. "Unfortunately, with Big Labor control of Congress on the line in November, we're likely to see many more illegal forced-dues-for-politics violations of workers' rights like this in the coming months."
Teamsters Local 848 did not respond to a request for comment.
Medina said in the charges that he opted out of union membership in August so he could pay a reduced fee. A month later, he allegedly received a copy of a letter, sent from the union to his employer, that said he would be fired if he did not pay full union dues within a week. Charges to the NLRB were filed in September and a settlement was reached last month.
Unions have responded to decades of declining membership, right-to-work laws, and unfavorable court rulings with creative policies to maximize dues payments. A common tactic is to restrict the option for workers to opt-out of membership to a limited period of time, often one month a year.