October 28, 2007
Labor Relations Office
P.O. Box 43113
Olympia WA 98504-3113
I have your letter dated October 11, 2007 responding to my Demand that the state:
Your response provides some useful information, but does not offer a legal explanation for the authority of the state to take this property. This letter restates the issue, and provides you individually, the state, and Governor Gregoire with clear legal notice of the issues and errors involved. Governor Gregoire is served to assure that she is provided clear legal notice of the state taking being done by you under her direct authority.
In a related matter your office replied to the Public Records Request served with the Demand letter and stated the records should be provided by October 17, 2007. No documents have yet been provided. As of this date, I make the following new Public Records Request, the state and all agencies, departments, institutions and office’s (to include the LRO) provide all public records related to the WPEA/UFCW International Fees, per capita taxes, or increased employee deductions under whatever name to include emails in their current format, to include electronic copies of Outlook inbox, sent, and deleted messages if that is their nature, or printed versions if so existing currently, phone records, letters, and all other related documents from whatever source. This is to include all such records through the date of this documents service. No records previously provided under the prior October 1, 2007 dated request need be identified or provided in this request. As an additional Public Disclosure request, all emails to, from or by Steve McLain of any nature including sent, deleted, inbox or drafts from October 1, 2007 to present not specifically exempt from Public Records disclosure regardless of content or subject. These records to be provided in their original electronic form unless they exist only in hardcopy. Any documents not provided should be noted and the reason for their exemption stated. It is time that the public gets a look at what your work and role is.
Your October 11 letter says I express concerns about the recent change to fees being charged by the WPEA. To be clear, I am challenging the state’s legal right and authority to take this International Fee from my pay and give that money to the WPEA. The validity of the International Fee itself is a matter between employees and the WPEA. The state right to take my property and the property of other employees is at issue here. This document will again outline the lack of legal authority of the state to collect this new International Fee, and the lack of proper process under the WPEA bylaws and UFCW Constitution to even authorize this fee being charged to employees. This places you and the state under notice that whatever presumption may have existed that these fees were properly authorized is rebutted, and provides a higher burden for you to meet in continuing this state taking without allowing me and the affected class of state employees due process required under our state and federal constitutions and statutes.
The UFCW Constitution and WPEA Bylaws create a process for increasing, establishing or levying dues, and general or special assessments, as well as Per Capita Taxes. UFCW Constitution Article 38.A states "Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, reasonable dues, initiation and reinstatement fees, and general or special assessments shall be established, increased or levied by local unions by a majority vote by secret ballot of the members. Not less than 15 days written notice of such proposed action shall be sent to the membership prior to the voting."
The WPEA Bylaws, Article XI, section A states: "Except as otherwise provided in the International Constitution, reasonable dues, initiation and reinstatement fees, and general or special assessments shall be established, increased or levied by local unions by a majority vote by secret ballot of the members. Not less than 15 days written notice of such proposed action shall be sent to the membership prior to the voting."
Article 38.3 of the UFCW Constitution covers increases in the Per Capita Tax. It states "If the International Executive Board exercises it’s authority pursuant to Article 18 (A) 3 of this Constitution to increase the per capita tax an additional amount effective June 2002, or later, the monthly dues in each local union shall be increased by an additional amount equal to twice such increase in the per capita tax, effective the first day of the month such tax increase is effective".
UFCW Constitution Article 18 covers International Revenue. 18(A) 3. states "… a monthly per capita tax payable by Local Unions…" Section (D) states "Payment of all financial obligations owed to the International Union shall be made by each Local Union…"
Your October 11 letter describes the process and circumstances under which you personally received the WPEA request to take these new International Fees from employees. You write that "… the WPEA notified the Labor Relations Office on June 28, 2007 of it’s intent to increase fees. Leslie Liddle, Executive Director for the WPEA, met with me on June 28th, 2007 to deliver the request in person. During that meeting Ms Liddle assured me that this fee increase is authorized under the provision of the Union’s bylaws and approved by the WPEA/UFCW Executive Board. … Ms. Liddle assured me those she represented were aware of the increase and that it was covered by the payroll deduction card previously completed by employees…"
Your statement does not state how Ms. Liddle provided any of these assurances. The public records request will disclose whatever records exist or notes you took that document this meeting at least. It is possible you accepted nothing more than verbal assurances of Ms. Liddle before directing the state to take my property, and the property of thousands of other employees, and give it to the WPEA. If you relied on written assurances or documentation you should re examine that information in light of the information I am again presenting. The following points are specifically raised:
To state the issue. The state is taking my property and giving it to the WPEA/UFCW. What legal authority does the state have for taking this additional fee? None of your October 11 letter supports taking a new additional Fee. The state HR emails clearly characterize the fee as an "additional deduction" which is separately accounted for.
Your October 11 letter also states "RCW 41.04.230 provides for labor organizations to request payroll deduction for membership dues and fees." This RCW says "Labor …organization dues… may be deducted in the event a payroll deduction is not provided under a collective bargaining agreement under the provisions of chapter 41.80 RCW…" As you are aware the WPEA has a CBA under RCW 41.80 that provides for payroll deduction under article 36.4. Christopher Parsons August 9 email to management cites CBA article 36.4 as authority for the taking, apparently at your direction. The RCW 41.04.230 authority you now cite to support this taking is not applicable to this case. The International Fee is not for "dues" to the WPEA, it is a new "Fee" identified as such, which is owed by the WPEA to the UFCW. It is interesting that you now raise RCW 41.04.230 to support your actions. Do you have any documented legal advice authorizing this state taking, any AGO requested or obtained, or is this only your decision taken with the authority of the governor? By copying this letter to the governor she is placed under clear legal notice of actions you are taking in her name, and we intend to hold you both accountable for the actions and the reasonableness of this taking. As state employees we deserve honesty and the highest ethics and due diligence in any state taking of property. Your actions taken in the governors name do not appear to meet that standard.
It is believed about $52,000 a month is being taken from employee pay by the state and transferred to the WPEA/UFCW each month under your directions, when educational and general government employees are counted. That money goes out of state to the UFCW, and is available for political use not authorized by state employees. Given that I have demonstrated a reasonable position that the state has no legal authority to take the international fee from my pay , apparently far better documented and researched that your position that this "increase", changed without legal explanation to an "additional deduction", is legally authorized for the state to take from pay, it is time for you to stop the taking, and present a clear legal justification for the taking.
In closing I will be candid. I believe you know very well what is at issue here. State employees would not likely authorize this additional payment to the WPEA/UFCW. This organization is ramping up political activity and wants more money. That union money supports and influences the governor and other political interests. You are doing your part to use the power of the state to support this improper taking of employee property to feed the union/political efforts. Your position was created and exists in large part to do the governors will in these matters. You mentored under Gary Moore, a longtime WFSE president. It is time that the governor is clearly provided legal notice and accountability for these actions taken in her name by you and your office. It is time to do the right thing, acknowledge that the International Fee taking is a mistake, after considering these facts it is not authorized, stop the state taking, refund the amounts taken, and leave the issue between the WPEA/UFCW and state employees without the heavy hand of the state intruding to take our property and give it to this politically influential union.
I would appreciate a direct response to the legal issues raised in this and prior letters demonstrating that the state taking of the new "additional deduction" (International Fee) referenced by Christopher Parsons is not authorized. Dolly Garcia at DOR has stated in her October 8, 2007 email copied to you that your office the LRO " … had been specifically delegated by the Governor... and all of the agencies receive their directives from that office…" over these issues. What do you assert as the clear legal authority for this state taking? We have been patient in seeking straight talk, and straight writing on this point. The issue is serious. You owe state employees and me a serious and clear response as it appears on your authority as delegated by Governor Gregoire, and on your personal actions, that this state taking of the new International Fee is being done. About $150,000 has been taken to date. It is time for you and the governor to make this right.
1118 East D street #7
Tacoma WA 98421
CC Governor Gregoire
James Richmond, Attorney at Law
Dolly Garcia, DOR HR