The Communications Workers of Am. and Verizon Communications face a federal prosecution for allegedly illegally seizing some $150,000 in forced union dues from employees following a 2000 strike. Agreeing with arguments presented by Nat’l Right to Work Legal Def. Found. attorneys, the Nat’l Labor Relations Bd. issued the federal complaint after employees Kenneth Olszewski and Nancy Simms of Md. filed unfair labor practice charges on behalf of thousands of employees in 2000.
They filed the charges after Verizon helped CWA bosses collect dues for a one month period (Sept. 2000) following the strike in which no collective bargaining contract was in place. When no such forced-fee agreement is in effect, bosses can’t compel the payment of any dues from employees who exercise their right not to join a union.
NRTW estimates that CWA illegally seized a total of $150,000 from about 3,000 employees who chose to refrain from CWA membership. NRTW attorneys are demanding that all illegally collected union fees be returned to the employees, with interest. NLRB is also seeking to force CWA to post notices informing employees of their rights and CWA’s violation of those rights. NRTW also persuaded NLRB to issue a complaint against Verizon itself. According to NLRB’s complaint, “Verizon has provided illegal assistance and support to the union” by sending union bosses illegally demanded union dues, seized through paycheck deductions.
A hearing in Baltimore before an administrative law judge has been scheduled for fall 2001. In 1997, NLRB prosecuted CWA for the same type of scheme. [NRTW Media Release 8/6/01]