Public employee sues union, state over union fees

In another lawsuit filed by a state worker aided by a national anti-union organization, an employee of the New Mexico Department of Information Technology is suing a public employees union and the state, saying it’s unconstitutional to require public employees who are not union members to pay part of the union’s collective bargaining costs through fees deducted from their wages.

The new complaint and one filed in early December by a Human Services Department employee both cite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June in a landmark labor case called Janus v. AFSCME, in which justices decided it’s a violation of the First Amendment to force public-sector workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

According to the suit filed last week in federal District Court, David McCutcheon, an information systems professional who worked for several years in Gov. Susana Martinez’s office, returned in 2017 to the Department of Information Technology, where money was automatically deducted from his paycheck for Communications Workers of America.

“On July 7, 2018, McCutcheon notified the union, in writing, that he did not consent to any deduction of union dues or fees from his wages,” the suit says. “A union official responded in writing by stating that the request had been ‘submitted for processing.’ Notwithstanding McCutcheon’s notification, in September, the state of New Mexico started deducting full union dues from McCutcheon’s wages without his consent.

Union officials told McCutcheon that under its contract, he could only stop these deductions by revoking authorization during a two-week December “window period,” according to the complaint, which claims the requirement violates McCutcheon’s First Amendment rights.

The union’s membership paperwork does not inform employees that “they have a First Amendment right not to subsidize the union and its speech; or that, by signing the cards, they are waiving their First Amendment right to not subsidize the union and its speech,” the lawsuit says.

Donald Alire, president of the local CWA chapter, said Thursday he had not yet been served with the suit.

McCutcheon is being represented by the Springfield, Va.-based National Right to Work Foundation, a 50-year-old nonprofit. According to its website, the foundation’s mission “is to eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses.

In early December, Brett Hendrickson of the New Mexico Human Services Department filed a similar suit with the aid of another conservative nonprofit, the Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center, which represented Mark Janus of Illinois in the Janus v. AFSME case. Hendrickson’s suit is pending in federal court. Relatively few workers in New Mexico are represented by unions or belong to them. As of 2017, about 63,000 workers — slightly more than 8 percent of the state’s workforce — had union representation. Only 6.7 percent, or 52,000, belonged to unions. That compares with 10.7 percent of workers nationwide who were union members in 2017 — a record low, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.


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State employee sues over deduction of union fees

A state employee has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging New Mexico and a labor union violated his constitutional rights by deducting union fees from his paycheck over his objection, even after a landmark Supreme Court decision.

David McCutcheon, an information technology technician, is asking a federal court to strike down what he describes as an illegal scheme to collect union fees or dues from employees as a condition of employment.

He and his lawyers say hundreds of employees could be covered by the lawsuit and entitled to refunds.

The suit names two union groups – both affiliated with Communications Workers of America – and State Personnel Director Justin Najaka as defendants.

A spokeswoman for CWA said the union hadn’t been served with the lawsuit and couldn’t comment. The Journal wasn’t able to reach a state official for comment.

McCutcheon is asking the U.S. District Court in New Mexico to declare that the defendants’ “practices of forcing (employees) to pay fees to fund union activity of any kind violate the First Amendment” and are “an illegal conversion of their property.”

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges, the union’s contract with the state government severely limits the opportunity for employees to revoke their permission for fee deductions. Employees have only two weeks each year in which to withdraw, a system that should be struck down, the suit says.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group, is providing free legal help to McCutcheon.

“Contrary to the wishes of New Mexico union bosses and their allies in state government, First Amendment rights cannot be limited to just a couple of weeks per year,” the group’s president, Mark Mix, said in a written statement. “All civil servants should be able to exercise their rights to free speech and free association by cutting off union payments whenever they choose without interference by union officials.”

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in late June shook up the legal landscape for union fees.

Union membership cannot be required under federal law. But union fees – up until the Supreme Court’s decision – could be required as a condition of employment in unionized workplaces.

The required fees are sometimes called “fair share” payments. Unions must represent everyone in a collective bargaining unit, so everyone should pay their “fair share” for basic costs, even if they choose not to be members, supporters say.

But the Supreme Court ruled that government workers who choose not to join unions cannot be required to finance union activity.

Union leaders described the ruling as an attack on the funding mechanism that helps government workers band together for improved pay and working conditions.

In McCutcheon’s case, the lawsuit says he didn’t have to pay union fees when he was assigned to work for the Governor’s Office. But upon returning to the Department of Information Technology, he was informed that he would have to either pay full union dues or pay “nonmember forced fees” as a condition of employment.

McCutcheon’s lawsuit contends he notified the union that he didn’t want fees deducted from his paycheck but that the deductions continued over his objection – in violation of his First Amendment right to refrain from subsidizing unions.

Thursday, December 27th, 2018 at 11:05pm

Albuquerque Journal

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Laborers Local One will be having our monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at the Moose Lodge.

Laborers Local One Monthly Membership Meetings

The Moose Lodge

8601 Fullerton Ave.

River Grove, Illinois 60171

All meetings start at 7:00pm

Officers of Local One

Leo Esparza – Business Manager

Frank Damato – President

Marty Flanagan – Vice President

Peter Fosco – Secretary Treasurer

Paul Gehrmann – Recording Secretary


Executive Board                                                                    Auditors

          James Hall                                                                        Benito Rivera

        John Conrad                                                                       Jesus Ortiz

                                                                                                    Michael Pagano


Sgt-At-Arms                                                                  Business Agents  

Mike O’Hearn                                                                         John Conrad

                                                                                                    Michael Pagano

Illinois’ leaders visit southern Illinois first time since election

MARION, Ill. — J.B. Pritzker visited southern Illinois for the first time Sunday since being elected Governor last month. He was here for a roundtable about vocational education and training.

Governor-elect Pritzker and soon-to-be Lieutenant Governor, Juliana Stratton, spent time in Marion at the Laborers Local 773 Training Facility talking to union members, students and educators, including Herrin Superintendent Dr. Terry Ryker. 

“Learning is for everyone, but going and getting additional school after high school is not for everyone,” Ryker said.

Pritzker and Stratton also listened to ideas on how to fix the issue.

“We’ve talked about lifting up working families across the state,” Pritzker said. “It’s so important that we create jobs and also prepare our young people of the jobs that are available today and the jobs of the future.”

The goal of the roundtable was to discuss ideas on how to offer more choices to students.

“This is an important pathway for so many young people and a way to make sure they get the skills and education they need to lead some very good paying jobs,” Stratton said.

Pritzker says he wants to help prepare the next generation to continue Illinois’ reputation of great labor unions.

“I think that we all know that there are jobs and businesses out there that need people with certain skills,” Pritzker said. “Then there are people that don’t have the skills but have the capability.”

Vienna High School vocational student Alex Miller says this conversation is important ahead of his graduation.

“I sat down with my parents and discussed how expensive it would be to go to a four year university,” Miller said. “But this program, (vocational training) it would just save us money because it gets us our associates and it teaches us important life skills that we can use later on.”

“We think that a vocational career or a technical career is really a critical way to raise wages and to match people with the skills with the skill leveled jobs that already exist,” Pritzker said. 

Marion was part of a three-day stop throughout the state to visit and listen to voters.

Posted: Dec 09, 2018 10:34 PM CSTUpdated: Dec 09, 2018 10:43 PM CST

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Local One Christmas Open House

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Brothers and Sisters,

Laborers Local One will be having our Christmas Open House today in conjunction with our regular monthly meeting. Local One members must have 4th quarter union card to be admitted to the open house.

Open House: 4:00pm – 8:00pm

River Grove Moose Lodge 

8601 Fullerton Ave.

River Grove, IL 60171