In response to legal action brought by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) union is returning $672,000.00 in dues and interest to 330 non-union airline employees.
The settlement brings to close a long-running case that reached the United States Supreme Court. In addition to returning the dues money, the ALPA officials are required to change the accounting procedures they use to determine how much non-union employees pay in agency fees. These changes may reduce the difficulties faced by airline employees in reclaiming forced dues used to pay for union politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
Although many of the airline workers represented by Foundation attorneys live in states with Right to Work laws, they are not protected from compulsory unionism. The airline industry is regulated by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which imposes compulsory unionism despite state Right to Work laws.
The illegally confiscated dues are being returned pursuant to the settlement of two related suits brought by Foundation attorneys, Miller v. ALPA and Shackelford v. ALPA. Foundation attorneys won the Miller case at the U.S. Supreme Court with a 7-2 ruling that non-union workers cannot be forced into internal union kangaroo courts before taking their constitutional claims into federal court.
Among other things, the suit alleged that ALPA officials violated First Amendment protections as articulated in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson.Under Hudson, union officials must provide independently audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures before seizing any forced union dues from employees who choose chosen to refrain from union membership. [NRTWLDF 9/4/02]