Two Washington, D.C., security guards are taking a labor union to court, alleging workers voted to stop allowing dues to be taken out of their paychecks but the union keeps taking the money more than a year later.
Troy Golson and Yasir Maatoug are security guards at the Ronald Reagan building in the nation’s capital. They are employed by Coastal International Security and took the jobs with understanding that compulsory dues would be taken from their paychecks by the International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America, or SPFPA.
In November 2015, being dissatisfied with the representation being provided by the SPFPA, the two employees and their colleagues held a deauthorization vote to free themselves and their income from the mandates of the union.
“A deauthorization election is where the employees get together and they petition to have a vote on whether or not the contract will include a clause that requires them to pay union dues or fees to get or keep a job,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, which is representing Golson and Maatoug in this case.
“In 24 states across the country, and including the District of Columbia, you can be required to pay union dues or fees to get or keep a job. This contract that covered these employees had that provision. They thought they weren’t getting the representation they deserved or were paying for,” said Mix.
“So they decided to use what is their right under the National Labor Relations Act to deauthorize the forced collection of dues from this union,” added Mix.
The workers overwhelmingly voted to deauthorize the SPFPA from extracting dues from paychecks in November 2015.
“The union and the employer should stop collecting the dues. There’s no authorization for this money to be taken out of their paychecks and forwarded to the union by their employer. Yet, since 2015 after this vote, this particular union continues to demand these workers pay these dues to keep their jobs,” said Mix.
That is why Golson and Maatoug are pursuing legal action more than a year later.
“As far as we know, [the dues] are still being taken out and that’s why we filed the lawsuit, to stop that and to bring it to the attention of the National Labor Relations Board and make sure that they understand that these workers have successfully gone through the process that is laid down by the National Labor Relations Act to take this action. Yet, they’re not getting the union to adhere to what the rules are,” said Mix.
Mix says the SPFPA acknowledges the vote took place. However, the union does not accept the results because it did not take place during the proper “window period” to make such an adjustment to the existing contract.
Mix says that’s nonsense.
“That’s not true under deauthorization. Deauthorization says once we say you can no longer take our money, you can’t. It’s a little higher standard to get to and the unions don’t like it, but in this case a majority of the workers said that. Yet, the union won’t accept their desire to get out of this forced payment of fees,” said Mix.
According to Mix, deauthorization votes don’t happen often, largely because many workers don’t know their rights.
“Generally the workers don’t know of their rights and certainly the unions aren’t informing them of their rights to deauthorize the union,” said Mix.
He notes that right to work laws in the 26 other states forbid union membership and compulsory dues payments as a requirement to get and keep a job.