Honolulu Kaiser Permanente Employee Hits Local Union with Federal Charge for Illegal Union Dues Seizures
Union officials ignored two resignation requests, continue to unlawfully charge employee for union politics
UPDATE April 6, 2021: UNITE HERE Bosses Back Down after Federal Charge Challenging Illegal Dues Seizures
News Release from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
Honolulu, HI (December 15, 2020)– Nina Chiu, an employee of the Kaiser Permanente branch in Kalihi, filed a federal charge against the UNITE HERE Local 5 union at her workplace. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys are providing her with free legal aid in pursuing her charge.
Chiu’s charge was filed at National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 20 in San Francisco. The charge explains that she “sent two letters to the union within the last six months asserting” her rights under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision. Beck forbids union bosses from forcing employees who object to union membership to pay dues for any union activities not directly germane to the union’s bargaining functions, such as the union’s political expenditures. The NLRB has ruled that, under Beck, nonmembers must be provided an independent audit of the union’s breakdown of expenses.
Because Hawaii lacks Right to Work protections for its employees, Chiu can still be required to pay some money to the union as a condition of keeping her job. However, union officials must follow the requirements of the Beck decision if they compel employees to make union payments under threat of termination.
Chiu’s charge states that, even after submitting two letters exercising her Beck rights, she still “has not received a financial breakdown and is still being charged the equivalent of full dues.” Consequently, her charge argues, the UNITE HERE Local 5 union has breached Chiu’s rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which guarantees all workers the right to “refrain from any or all” union activities.
This is not the first time that Foundation staff attorneys have assisted workers whose Beck rights have been violated by UNITE HERE union officials. Most recently, in late October, Foundation attorneys won a settlement for foodservice workers at Portland, Oregon’s Lewis & Clark College, where UNITE HERE agents had impaired their ability to decide intelligently whether to choose union membership by failing to give them a good faith estimate of the amount by which their dues payments would be reduced if they abstained from membership. The Foundation-won settlement gives the employees there an opportunity to resign their memberships retroactively, and receive refunds for dues they paid in excess of the nonmember rate while misled by the union’s keeping them in the dark.
“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,” commented 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.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.