WASHINGTON, DC — Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), in conjunction with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the right of workers who choose not to join a union — but who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement — to refrain from paying dues for causes they do not support, including organizing campaigns.

The Supreme Court case, filed by the National Right to Work (RTW) Legal Defense Foundation, centers on the RTW’s challenge to a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling, upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that organizing costs may be included in the agency fees charged to non-union workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement’s union security clause.

In their brief, ABC and NAM said the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling conflicts directly with two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Ellis vs. BRAC (1984) and CWA vs. Beck (1988), which upheld the right of non-union workers who are covered by collective bargaining agreements to refrain from paying dues for union-organizing efforts.

ABC’s national chairman Ken Adams stated, “The Ninth Circuit clearly has issued a ruling that conflicts with established Supreme Court precedent. Individuals covered by union security clauses who are not members of a union should not be forced to pay for a cause that they may strongly oppose — such as union organizing of other workplaces or the support of political candidates to whom they are philosophically opposed.”

Writing on behalf of ABC and NAM, ABC’s general counsel Maurice Baskin of Venable, LLP, said in the brief, “This court’s review is required to resolve the direct conflict resulting from the Ninth Circuit’s misreading of and departure from [Ellis and Beck’s] established precedent. In Ellis, this court unanimously rejected the Ninth Circuit’s identical claim that union organizing expenses should be chargeable to objecting nonmembers under the Railway Act.… In Beck, this court applied the principles of Ellis to the National Labor Relations Act, reaffirming that Section 8(a)(3) of the NLRA and Section 2, Eleventh [of the Railway Act] are ‘statutory equivalents.’”

Baskin continued, “Nothing has changed which justifies the NLRB’s unauthorized attempt to rewrite this court’s decisions in Ellis and Beck. The board and the Ninth Circuit must not be permitted to evade and undermine this court’s holdings, to the detriment of objecting nonmembers who want no part of the union’s organizing efforts outside their own bargaining units.”

For more information, visit ABC’s website at www.abc.org.

Publication date: 09/30/2002