Thomas Ross, a San Francisco-based security officer employed by Allied Universal, has filed charges against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials and his employer for forcing him to join and financially support the union after he told both parties his religious beliefs forbid union support.
Despite informing both management and union of religious objections to union membership and financial support, employer seized money from Ross’s paycheck for the labor union.
According to National Right to Work Foundation which is representing him pro bono, Ross is a Christian and opposes union affiliation on religious grounds.
The National Right to Work Foundation explains:
“Ross filed both federal discrimination charges, which will now be investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and unfair labor practice charges, which will be handled by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits unions and employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of religion. Title VII thus forbids forcing individuals to fund or support a union, the activities of which conflict with their religion. It also requires unions and employers to accommodate religious objections to union payments. Yet, according to Ross’ discrimination charges, SEIU union bosses flatly denied a request he made for such an accommodation.
“On August 31, 2022, Ross reminded Allied Universal of his religious objection to paying union dues, but on September 15, 2022, Ross’ “’employer stated that union membership was compulsory and deducted union fees’ from his paycheck without his consent.
“Ross’ unfair labor practice charges state that those deductions violate the NLRA, because that statute prohibits the deduction of union dues and fees unless the employee has signed a written authorization. Ross’ discrimination charges argue that both his employer and the union have also violated his rights ‘under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’ and parallel state non-discrimination laws.”
“The Foundation is proud to help working men and women who courageously stand up for their beliefs even in the midst of union coercion,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, it’s important to recognize that, regardless of whether an employee’s objection to union affiliation is religious in nature or not, no American worker should ever be forced to subsidize union activities they oppose.”
The Globe has covered many of the National Right to Work Foundation legal cases on behalf of employees, including Long Beach-area Savage Services employee Nelson Medina who charged Teamsters Local 848 union bosses with threatening to have him fired for refusing to join the union, pay full dues, and pay other fees demanded by union officials. With legal representation by the National Right to Work Foundation Medina won a settlement ordering Teamsters Local 848 union officials to pay back thousands of dollars in illegal dues they seized from about 60 of his coworkers who objected to union membership and to funding the union’s political activity.
The National Right to Work Foundation is also representing Orange County California lifeguard Jonathan Savas and 22 colleagues, who sued the State of California and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) labor union for violating their First Amendment right to abstain from forced union membership and compelled financial support. In September they submitted a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court in their case challenging the CSLEA labor union officials’ “maintenance of membership” scheme, which has trapped Savas and his colleagues in union membership and full dues payment until 2023, four years after they tried to resign from the union.
The lifeguards argue the union-created scheme violates their rights under the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision, as they argued before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges.
“California’s lack of Right to Work protections for its private sector workers means that union officials are granted the power to force workers to pay them fees or be fired in workplaces where they maintain power. However, under federal law, employees with religious objections cannot be compelled to pay such fees. In Right to Work states, in contrast, no worker can be fired for refusal to financially support a union,” the National Right to Work Foundation explains.thomas ross charges 1