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October 1, 2007

Labor Relations Office

P.O. Box 43113

Olympia, WA 98504-3113

Attn Steve McLain

 

 

Demand to Cease Washington State WPEA/UFCW International Fee Taking

 

The State of Washington, an employer, has been taking a "UFCW International Fee" payment from state employee paychecks and giving it to the WPEA. The amount of $8.54 a month is being taken from state employees paychecks. It may be taken in different amounts or under another name at different agencies, Departments or institutions. This dispute is strictly between the class of state employees subject to this state taking, and the State of Washington, our employer who is taking our property. While the WPEA/UFCW may have requested or demanded that the state take this employee property, it is the act of the state in taking our pay and giving it to the union in dispute. This Demand and action are taken on behalf of the entire class of state employees affected by this state taking, at whatever agency, department or institution including institutions of higher education. It is submitted in this form to place the state under clear notice that the taking is not authorized according to WPEA bylaws or the UFCW Constitution, nor is it authorized by the CBA.

We demand and direct the State of Washington to:

Immediately stop the taking of "International Union Fees" in whatever amount, or taking any deductions other than the 1.25% WPEA union dues up to the allowed cap from state employees paychecks, and cease delivery or giving this employee property to the WPEA/UFCW.

Refund to all state employees any property previously taken by Washington State and given to the WPEA/UFCW in whatever amount, which the state has not documented to be fully authorized consistent with contracts, agreements, authorization cards, Constitutions and Bylaws, and having been taken without due process required under the state and Federal Constitutions. Employees are entitled to notice and due process, the state is not to act as an agent of these unions.

For the State of Washington to fully explain and justify the legal authority, due diligence, and due process followed by the state in this taking of employee property.

Background

In a letter dated July 25, 2007, to "All WPEA/UFCW 365 Bargaining Unit Members, and Other Members of WPEA/UFCW 365", from "WPEA/UFCW 365 Executive Board" it was stated that "Effective August 1, 2007 each member will be charged a monthly "International Union Fee" of $8.54, in addition to their WPEA Dues (1.25% of gross salary). This letter also notes that the WPEA affiliated with the UFCW in May 2003 to protect the WPEA from "raiding by other state employee unions… our only protection from these raids was to affiliate with an international union… which forbids raiding of one union by another". The affiliation was taken TO PROTECT THE WPEA on May 19, 2003, not to represent employee interests. Raiding would involve employees choosing to affiliate with another union. The letter states "All Affected Locals" are required to pay a monthly per member fee to the UFCW. It is our information that the WPEA has been paying this fee under the following schedule:

$1.00 per capita through May 18, 2004

$2.00 per capita through May 18, 2005

$3.00 per capita through May 18, 2006

$4.00 per capita through May 18, 2007

$12.54 per capita beginning May 19, 2007

In short, the WPEA committed itself to pay these per capita fees, to affiliate with the UFCW, to protect the WPEA from competition with other unions. This affiliation is for the benefit of the WPEA, not employees. It reduces employee choice and options in affiliation. The UFCW represents grocery clerks, and has minimal or negative value to state employees. WPEA members chose to affiliate with the UFCW to benefit the WPEA itself in 2003, prior to the forced unionization of state employees. The WPEA paid these fees without any charge to employees up to August 25, 2007.

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".

Article 18 of the UFCW Constitution covers International Revenue. 18(A) 3. defines "… 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…"

The following points are critical.

The WPEA did not provide 15 days notice of a proposed action. It stated the $8.54 would be charged and taken from employee paychecks.

The 2003 vote was "about the pros and cons of affiliation"…"Affiliation with the UFCW was unanimously passed". The 2003 "vote" was not a secret ballot to approve charging or increasing an UFCW International Fee, a Per Capita Tax, dues, or special assessment as defined and governed by the UFCW and WPEA Constitution and Bylaws. No secret ballot approving charging employees the $8.54 or any amount or affiliation fee has been held by the WPEA. The WPEA contracted to pay this affiliation fee, to benefit the WPEA. It has paid this fee for 4 years.

The July 25, 2007 WPEA letter states "All affiliated locals are required to pay a monthly per member (per capita) fee to their International Union". Note the "local" is required to pay, not the employees. The employees have not authorized the assessment of any such dues or fees after notice and secret ballot as required. It is the WPEA’s obligation, not the employees, which the WPEA alone has paid for 4 years, since prior to the forced unionization of the state workforce.

If this charge is viewed as a per capita tax the UFCW Constitution Article 38.3 may govern passing along any increase. This Article mandates such an increase be authorized by the UFCW Executive Board, that "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". In this case the "increase" to $12.54 is not new as authorized by the UFCW Executive Board. It was the standard rate as authorized by that board in 2003. The WPEA has been paying this rate since May 19, 2007, the WPEA committed to pay this rate in May 2003, the rate has not been changed by the UFCW Executive Board since that time, and we believe the WPEA had negotiated a phased in "teaser rate" schedule which was paid prior to that date. The WPEA has never been authorized to charge this Fee to employees in any amount. This increase or amount was not charged to employees "effective the first day of the month such increase is effective", which was no later than May 2007. Any increase of per capita fees under Article 38.3 is required to be doubled by the WPEA. None of these UFCW Constitution or WPEA Bylaw requirements or tests have been met or followed by the WPEA to charge state employees this "International Fee" or "per capita tax". This fee does not appear to be governed or authorized by Article 38.3.

Article 18 of the UFCW Constitution also states that the per Capita Tax is a debt that is payable by the local unions. No where does Article 18 require the individual employees to pay this fee or Tax. It requires the WPEA to pay this tax. The WPEA has been paying this tax. The state is taking employee property and giving it to the WPEA without legal cause or authorization.

Employees of the State of Washington are not to have our property taken by the state without due process and clear legal authority. When taking the pay of thousands of state employees, and giving it to a politically active and influential union with executive branch relationships which include the Labor Relations Office and DOP, the Governor, and Agency HR management, the state has a high duty and requirement for due diligence and due process to meet before such a taking and giving of employee cash to the WPEA.

The state appears to be failing this duty, and improperly doing the bidding of the WPEA in this case. We place the state under clear notice that:

The WPEA and UFCW have not followed the requirements of their Bylaws or Constitution in authorizing the $8.54 International Union Fees deduction or any similar deduction from employees.

The CBA does not authorize deduction of this charge from employee pay by the state. This fee was known and being paid by the WPEA alone through the 2005-2007 CBA and was known during the negotiation of the 2007-2009 CBA. The CBA only authorizes deduction of WPEA union dues or a representation fee of 1.25% gross salary up to a cap amount. This UFCW International Fee is not subject to the union security article.

The state has intimidated, influenced and directed state employees to sign and submit "payroll deduction authorization cards". It has intimidated and influenced employees not to rescind those cards who sought to do so as a result of the International Fee taking. Those cards only authorize "monthly dues or fees of 1.25% gross salary…or as dues or fees may…be adjusted in accordance with the UFCW Constitution". These charges or fees are not in accordance with that Constitution. In fact this international fee is new, reported as a separate deduction under a new name by the state on the state "Earnings and Deductions Statement".

This International Union Fee is being improperly taken from Representation Fee payers with no union membership or international affiliation at all.

 

Demand For Immediate Relief and Response

The state, and all agencies, departments and institutions to immediately end and cease all "UFCW International Fees" or increased deductions taken from employee pay in excess of the 1.25% of gross salary up to the cap amount. The state and executive branch should not act as the agent of the WPEA to take employee property and give it to these union political allies under these facts.

That the state and all agencies, departments and institutions immediately refund all amounts the state has taken from employee pay and given to the UFCW. This taking is the act of the state, it is an internal matter between the state and the WPEA if the state wishes to have the WPEA refund this money to the state. The state has done the taking from employees, and is solely responsible for returning the property.

That the state provide a clear written statement of the legal authority and justification for this taking of employee property, identify who individually was involved in the decision and what their role was, what due process was provided by the state to employees in relation to this state taking, and what due diligence was done, by who, on behalf of the state to determine the taking was legal, fully authorized, and employee rights to due process were followed in relation to this WPEA requested taking of employee property by the state.

As a Public Records Request, the state and all agencies, departments, institutions and office’s 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 documents related to demand #3 above. If the state chooses to print documents into hardcopy rather than provide them in electronic formats as they exist, these hardcopy documents should be provided free of charge.

 

 

 

Conclusion

State employees have been forced into politically active unions by the Executive branch and unions working together, including the WPEA and state coordinating the denial of a required vote by all employees. The Executive branch, and in our information the Labor Relations Office, specifically now have improperly authorized and directed state agencies and institutions to take employee property, give it to the WPEA, without due process to employees, based on nothing more than the apparent request of the WPEA/UFCW to the state and LRO to perform this taking.

The state should respect, defend, and strictly support employee rights to free speech, free association, and due process before taking our property. The executive branch appears to have again supported the WPEA and violated employee rights. We view this as a continuing pattern and enterprise of union political corruption involving the executive branch of Washington State and the WPEA.

This Demand is brought on behalf of all affected Washington State employees at any agency, department, or institution including higher education, community colleges or other educational employees, and is not limited to General Government CBA covered employees.

We ask for and expect a prompt response to these serious violations of the due process and other rights to be free from improper government taking or interference which state employees are experiencing at the hands of the executive branch.

Signed this _____day of October 2007

______________________________________

Dennis Redmon individually

Dennis Redmon for the class of state employees affected

As President, Fair Washington Labor Association

1118 East d street #7

Tacoma WA, 98421

Cc James Richmond, attorney at law

Rob McKenna, Washington State Attorney General