Disneyland Employee Files Charges Against Union for Illegally Seizing his Dues

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On July 25, 2019 a Disneyland stage technician filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 504 union and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts for illegally seizing union fees from his paycheck.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys provided legal aid to the technician when the charges were filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The employee exercised his rights under the Communications Workers of America v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision, which the Foundation won. This decision mandates that unions reduce compulsory fees charged to workers who withdraw from union membership so they are not compelled to fund certain political activities such as lobbying and political activism. Additionally, the Beck decision also requires union officials to provide nonmember workers an independently verified audit which justifies the amount of compulsory union fees.

Due to the fact that California is not a Right to Work state, private sector employees can be fired simply for refusing to pay union dues. However, union officials are obligated to charge as a condition of employment only the part of dues that the Beck decision allows for. Then they must follow the Beck procedures before seizing said union fees from workers who are not part of a union.

Mark Stacy is not a member of IATSE and he informed the union that he refuses to pay the lawfully nonchargeable part of his fees. He alleges in his charges filed with the NLRB Region 21 office that Disneyland has violated his rights under federal law, at IATSE officials’ behest, by continuing to take union fees from his paycheck without reducing the fees as Beck mandates.

In his charges, Stacey asserts that IATSE union agents have also never provided him with the financial disclosures Beck requires. On top of that, neither Disneyland nor IATSE are authorized to deduct dues from him because Stacey has not signed off on that. In turn, these deductions of union fees are illegal.

In recent years, other Disney employees have received legal aid from the Foundation to stop the illegal seizure of dues. Last June, Foundation staff attorneys were able to obtain a favorable NLRB ruling for several Walt Disney World employees who had their requests to reduce dues ignored by Florida Teamsters officials. Full dues were illegally deducted from their wages by Disney and then accepted by Teamsters agents in clear violation of federal law and Florida’s Right to Work law.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix declared that “The ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ can’t be very happy if its owners and union are violating federal law by ignoring worker rights when it comes to union dues and fees.”

He added, “Cases like this show why the workers of the Golden State deserve the protection of a Right to Work law to ensure that union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary.”

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