National Right to Work Foundation IAM union quickly retreats in Boeing technician’s lawsuit over illegal dues deductions, union must return dues

Union bosses used financial data from other locals to ‘calculate’ a higher forced dues amount than long-standing law allows

Seattle, Washington (July 14, 2022) – A technician at the Boeing plant in Auburn, WA, has won a settlement requiring union officials at the International Association of Machinists (IAM) to return dues garnished from his wages in violation of his rights under the precedent of the Supreme Court. He received free legal aid from the National Foundation for the Legal Defense of the Right to Work.

In May, Boeing technician Don Zueger filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against the IAM union, claiming the union violated his rights under the Foundation, which it won in 1988 . CWA vs. Beck United States Supreme Court decision. In beckthe Court ruled that union officials cannot legally demand full union dues from private sector workers who fail to formally join a union.

Below beck, union officials can only charge non-union members “dues” which exclude expenses for things like union political activities. Washington state’s lack of right-to-work protections for its private-sector workers means union officials can force workers to pay certain fees as a condition of keeping their jobs.

In contrast, in the 27 states that have passed right-to-work laws, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary. This eliminates the possibility for union officials to “cook the books” when determining how much non-members can be required to pay on pain of dismissal.

IAM dues system used audits of other union locals to impose illegal dues rate on workers

According to Zueger’s lawsuit, in February he resigned his union membership and asked IAM union officials to cut his dues as the Supreme Court beck precedent requires.

IAM officials responded by saying that, in accordance with the union’s national policy, the fee amounts charged to non-members were derived from the averages of selected audits which, in each case, included nine other local and district affiliates. of the IAM. This means that IAM officials did not calculate Zueger’s mandatory union dues rate using the actual percentages determined during audits of local and district IAM affiliates that Zueger must subsidize as a condition of employment. .

Unsurprisingly, this policy resulted in the amount of forced dues for Zueger being higher than it would have been had union officials followed. beck and only used audits for the district and local affiliates that Zueger is obligated to fund.

Zueger’s lawsuit sought to force IAM union bosses to return all money taken in violation of beck and to adequately reduce future union dues in accordance with beck.

Settlement requires IAM union to return illegally seized dues

Rather than attempt to defend their scheme which increased the amount of Zueger’s coerced fees, IAM union leaders quickly backed down and settled the case. IAM union officials have now, as required by the settlement, returned to Zueger the difference between the amount of forced fees required and the illegal amount the union imposed on him.

Going forward, the settlement prohibits IAM union officials from demanding more money from Zueger than the actual reduction beck portion. The settlement confirms Zueger’s beck rights, although these are limited compared to the full protections of a right to work law.

“Mr. Zueger’s quick victory in this case probably indicates that IAM union bosses had no confidence that their ‘average’ dues system would survive any serious judicial inspection,” commented the president of IAM. the National Foundation for the Right to Work, Mark Mix. “It is shameful that union officials continue to look for ways to violate the decades-old law beck The Supreme Court precedent and overload of workers who clearly want nothing to do with the union and its agenda – a big concern as union politics heats up ahead of the midterm elections.

“This scheme to artificially manipulate forced fee calculations is part of IAM national policy, so it is almost certain that other workers in Seattle and across the country are also subject to the same illegal calculations,” added Mix. “The Foundation has helped workers exercise and defend their beck rights for years, and workers should contact us for free legal help if they face illegal dues claims.

Workers can apply for free legal aid from the Foundation by calling 800-336-3600 or through the Foundation’s website at

The National Workplace Legal Defense Foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization that provides free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by abuses of compulsory unionism. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees with approximately 250 cases nationwide per year.

Maria D. Ervin