Published 02 Apr, 2015
STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2015
FEDERAL JUDGE TOSSES OUT LAWSUIT AGAINST TWU, BROUGHT BY EMPLOYEES SEEKING TO AVOID PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE OF UNION COSTS
The Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, won a significant legal victory in federal court on March 30, beating back a lawsuit that was aimed at allowing employees who enjoy the benefits of union representation to avoid having to pay their fair share of collective bargaining-related costs.
The lawsuit, filed in Texas federal court and labeled Jose Serna v. TWU, was brought by a group of nine airline employees — flight attendants at Southwest and fleet service workers at Envoy—who chose not to join TWU as members, despite being represented by the union in collective bargaining with their employers. They claimed in their suit that TWU violated their constitutional rights by requiring them to pay their fair share of the union’s bargaining costs. The plaintiffs claimed they had a First Amendment right to withhold fees from the union.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation paid for the lawsuit and provided the lawyers who represented the plaintiffs. The Foundation is an organization that aims to cripple labor unions by denying them the legal right to financial support from represented workers. This case was just one in a host of lawsuits that so-called “right to work” proponents have brought against unions over the past half-century, in an ongoing campaign to weaken labor and undermine gains for working Americans.
Without granting a trial, the federal judge in Texas threw out the lawsuit against TWU, holding that longstanding Supreme Court decisions support the union’s position that it may lawfully charge even those workers who choose not to join the union for their fair share of the union’s bargaining expenses.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit raised a number of other claims, charging that TWU’s procedures for collecting representation costs from non-members were unlawful. The judge made short work of those arguments too, finding that TWU’s current procedures are entirely in line with existing law.
We expect the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation won’t take this loss lightly and will pay for and provide lawyers for an appeal of the court’s decision. In that context, TWU’s clear victory here is just another round in what has been and will continue to be a much larger battle against so-called “right to work.” If we do face an appeal, which is likely, the union will again strongly defend the principle that even those who choose not to join the TWU as members should pay their fair share of the costs incurred on their behalf.
The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) represents 200,000 workers and retirees in commercial aviation, public transportation and passenger railroads. The union is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO
501 3rd St NW / Floor 9 / Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202.719.3900 / www.twu.org