Employees at a Seattle-area hospital have received a refund of thousands of dollars in union dues after a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that the money was collected improperly.
The agreement means that $3,200 collectively will be returned to 18 current and former employees at Swedish Health Services, according to a press release from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
One of the employees, Roger White, filed a grievance with the NLRB in April of 2020 against the Service Employees International Union Healthcare 1199NW.
White had previously sent a letter to the SEIU local in January of 2020 resigning his membership and invoking his right to pay reduced fees under a U.S. Supreme Court decision. These are known as “Beck Rights” that allow nonmembers to only pay the portion of dues directly related to the bargaining process.
White’s grievance claimed the SEIU failed to inform him that during a contract hiatus at the time, no forced dues agreement was in place between the hospital and the union, meaning nonmembers were under no obligation to pay. The previous contract had expired at the end of 2019, and a new three-year agreement was not ratified until April of 2020.
The NLRB agreed with attorneys from the foundation, which represented White free of charge, that union officials intentionally kept him in the dark regarding his status during the negotiations and that the union used membership forms that were “confusing and ambiguous,” indicating that forms signed by hospital employees authorizing dues to be deducted from their paychecks “may be interpreted to preclude employees from revoking their authorization upon expiration of the contract.”
The settlement also requires the SEIU moving forward to inform nonmember Beck objectors of their rights that they are under no obligation to pay fees during any future contract hiatus.
“To maximize their forced dues revenue, SEIU bosses kept Roger White and his coworkers in a state of ignorance by drafting membership forms that misled the very workers the SEIU supposedly represents,” National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said in the press release.