Boeing worker wins settlement with union; unlawfully collected dues to be returned

Washington is not a right-to-work state.
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Don Zueger, a technician at Boeing’s Auburn, Washington, plant, has won a settlement against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers requiring them to repay excessive fees collected from him as a non-member.

Washington is not a right-to-work state, so contracts negotiated between private-sector employers and unions can require workers to pay a fee to cover the cost of collective bargaining.

However, under the 1988 CWA v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision, unions cannot demand full dues from non-union members when a portion of those funds are used for other than collective bargaining activities, such as backing political candidates.

Zueger filed a federal lawsuit on May 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, alleging that the union had collected fees from him for unwanted union activities.

“The Union is violating the duty of fair representation by requiring Zueger to fund a portion of its non-chargeable political, ideological, and non-representational activities at the District and Local Lodge level,” the lawsuit stated.

Rather than contest the case, the union entered into a settlement agreement with Zueger, agreeing to return the difference between the legally allowable fee and the amount actually imposed on him.

The settlement forbids future collection of any fees in excess of the legally allowed fee for collective bargaining representation, known as the Beck fee.

“Mr. Zueger’s quick victory in this case likely indicates IAM union bosses had no confidence that their ‘averaging’ dues scheme would survive any serious judicial inspection,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix in a statement.

He added, “This scheme to artificially manipulate forced fees calculations is part of the IAM’s nationwide policy, so almost certainly other workers in Seattle and across the country are also being subjected to the same illegal calculations.”

Twenty-eight states have enacted “right-to-work” legislation, which guarantees no individual can be forced as a condition of employment to join or pay dues or fees to a labor union.

The Center Square requested but did not immediately receive a comment on the settlement from the IAM union.