Police Lieutenant Bailey Files Suit Over Union Dues Conflict

Bridgeport Police Lieutenant William “Ron” Bailey, who oversees sick and injury management in the city Police Department, has filed a lawsuit in federal court for what he says is the illegal docking of union dues from his city paycheck. Bailey says he left the union in part because of the treatment he received from union leadership for “trying to get folks back to work. They treated me different than other union members so I left the union.”

Bailey made his mark in city law enforcement as a vice detective working long and difficult hours in the Special Services Division investigating powerful and dangerous drug dealers. He took on cases few cops had the courage to pursue with several acts of violence taken against his car and home. His work earned him the nickname “Wild Bill.” He’s a bright, high-energy personality and master in martial arts. In recent years, he says, he’s taken on the challenge of sick and injury management, a reform measure that doesn’t lend itself to making friends inside the police department. “If the public knew what was going on with that they’d have a heart attack,” he told OIB.

Union officials are free to contact OIB or to post their side of the story. News release from The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation:

Police Officer Sues City of Bridgeport for Illegally Confiscating Union Dues

Bridgeport officer was unlawfully forced to contribute union dues to AFSCME, AFL-CIO

Bridgeport, CT (June 28, 2011) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, a local police officer has filed suit in United States District Court against two unions and the City of Bridgeport for illegally confiscating union dues from his paycheck.

Although the plaintiff, William Bailey, is not a union member, all Bridgeport police officers are subject to a bargaining agreement between the city and the Bridgeport Police Local 1159 and Council 15 AFSCME, AFL-CIO unions. After resigning his union membership in 2007, Bailey indicated that he wished to opt-out of dues unrelated to collective bargaining in 2011.

Because Connecticut has not passed a Right to Work law, state employees can be forced to pay part of union dues as a condition of employment. However, under the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision Teachers Local 1 v. Hudson, public employees must be notified how much of their dues are spent on union activities unrelated to collective bargaining – such as members-only events and political activism – and given the opportunity to opt out of paying for those activities.

Despite this precedent, the agreement between the City of Bridgeport and Local 1159 and Council 15 allows union officials to deduct a “service charge” from nonunion employees equal to the dues paid by full union members. Since January 2011, Bridgeport has seized and union operatives have collected the equivalent of full union dues from Bailey’s paycheck over his objections. Moreover, Bailey has not been given the opportunity to challenge the amount collected or review the union’s finances. Union officials have never responded to Bailey’s requests to opt out of paying full union dues in the first place.

Bailey’s complaint seeks the return of all unlawfully seized dues, plus interest, from the unions and an injunction to prevent union officials from collecting any dues from Bailey until Local 1159 and Council 15 adopt a payment procedure that safeguards his constitutionally-protected right to opt out.

“Public officials and union operatives colluded to extract full union dues from a nonunion police officer who has no interest in subsidizing the union’s agenda,” said Patrick Semmens, Legal Information Director for the National Right to Work Foundation. “Until Connecticut safeguards public employees’ rights by making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary, this type of abuse will continue unchecked.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.



  1. Published on National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (www .nrtw.org)

    Firefighters Win $45,000 Settlement for Violations of their Constitutional Rights by Union and Top City Officials

    Bridgeport, Connecticut (March 29, 2005) — A U.S. District Court Justice has approved a settlement of a case brought by six Bridgeport firefighters in a federal class-action lawsuit against the City of Bridgeport, a union, and top city officials for violations of their First Amendment rights by seizing compulsory union dues from the paychecks of scores of nonunion firefighters.

    After receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the firefighters’ won a settlement forcing International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) union Local 834 officials to return $45,000 in union dues unlawfully seized between June 2002 and October 2004.

    Union officials acted in concert with the City of Bridgeport and seized compulsory union dues from the firefighters who are not formal union members without first providing an adequate independent audit of the union’s expenditures, as required by law. The suit also named Bridgeport Mayor John Michael Fabrizi, among other top city officials, for the unconstitutional acts.

    “IAFF union officials simply want nonunion firefighters to shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason [1], Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Union operatives should not be allowed trample on firefighters’ constitutional rights by unlawfully seizing dues from their paychecks.”

    The firefighters filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut in June 2004. They alleged that IAFF Local 834 union officials seized the forced union dues without first providing the financial disclosure and procedures required by a long-standing U.S. Supreme Court ruling interpreting that the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect public employees from demands to pay for union political activity and other activities they may oppose.

    As a result of the case’s class-action status, the settlement provides restitution for all firefighters in the bargaining unit who are not formal members of IAFF Local 834 in the amount of forced dues collected prior to October 2004. At the same time, the settlement forces IAFF officials to cease deducting dues from those who not members until such time as the city and union comply with all of the constitutional requirements to collect dues.

    Under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson [2], before collecting any forced dues, union officials must first provide an audited disclosure of the union’s expenses. Such audits are intended to ensure that forced union dues seized from nonunion public employees do not fund union activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

  2. Wild Bill,
    Probably the best cop I have ever met. I wish we had 300 more like him. The sick & disabled list keeps a lot of cops out of work and paid. A very sacred cow to be protected.

    Given an assignment Ron will go at with the tenacity of a pit bull. Reminds me a lot of John Gomes, you are given a job and then get punished for doing it.

    However I can’t agree with Bill on this one. If you reap the benefits of union negotiation, you should pay your fair share back to them. That’s why there is a cover charge at parties, you have to clean up. You also must pay the band.

    Tractor gets stuck in water during Bridgeport beach construction

    “The information that I was provided with from the Parks Department indicated that no work at all was conducted in the water,” Wood wrote. “Parks department employees were very sensitive to not disturbing or harming the environment, however, some grass plantings were replanted in such a way to provide better access for residents.”

    Wood added that no additional work was planned.


  4. The news release from The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for Mr. Bailey is clear what the problem is. Mr. Bailey has not been given the opportunity to challenge the amount collected or review the union’s finances. Union officials have never responded to Bailey’s requests to opt out of paying full union dues in the first place.

    Bailey’s complaint seeks the return of all unlawfully seized dues, plus interest, from the unions and an injunction to prevent union officials from collecting any dues from Bailey until Local 1159 and Council 15 adopt a payment procedure that safeguards his constitutionally-protected right to opt out.

    1. yahooy–From the Irish
      May those who love us, love us;
      and those that don’t love us,
      may God turn their hearts;
      and if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
      may He turn their ankles,
      so we’ll know them by their Limp.

  5. I strongly believe in unions who represent and support their members and the true purpose of why unions were created. Unions were very much needed in this country. Unions gave all Americans child safety laws, the 40-hour work week, time & a half for overtime, a safe workplace, the ability to elect their own representative to negotiate their wages, health benefits, vacation, holidays work conditions and retirement. Civil Rights and Voting Rights are two of the biggest issues labor unions have supported and fought for to help those who were denied those rights as Americans. I do not support any union that does not speak out against racism on the job and sit back and collect dues from those who have made it known or their problems.

    1. I agree. Unions WERE an essential part of establishing fairness, equity, safety and security in the emerging work force of the 20th century. We are now in the the 21st century. ALL of the issues addressed in earlier times have firmly in place legislation protecting the workers from all types of workplace maladies and, to some extent, protection from management who beat out profits on the backs of labor.
      Union presence in the private sector such as smokestack manufacturing is passe. Thanks for your contributions. We’re covered now. We don’t need threats of strikes to continue in profitable commerce. Sikorsky is a prime example. Those poor union members sat out several weeks in dreadful winter weather only to give up and return with absolutely no gain for their effort. I’ll bet many of those Sikorsky union members still haven’t recovered the financial loss of long weeks with no pay.
      The only place unions can have a hold these days are in the municipalities where the promise of votes gets them more than they deserve. Stratford is a prime example (as is Bridgeport’s notorious Panuzio 20-and-out deal; plus Finch’s balderdash promising the cops a payday for deferred raises we couldn’t afford when they came due). The news is replete with article after article about Stratford Firefighters who are allowed to accumulate sick time and excessive overtime in the last years to bolster their individual pension base. One ambitious recent retiree in Stratford has a lifetime pension equal to 160% of his base pay. Too many of his colleagues have pensions in excess of 100% of base pay. How did that happen? UNION NEGOTIATIONS. Who in their right bleeping mind would even entertain such a dreadful proposal never mind accepting it and making it policy? I’ll tell you who … a stupid mayor who does not have the skills for the job, is worried about preserving his paycheck and is willing to do anything to do so. Even if the effect is a detriment to the very public trust he swore to uphold.

      My analysis in this regard leaves me with only one viable and thought-filled conclusion. Present-day unions STINK!!! No?

      1. yahooy,
        We have debated this before and there is some validity in your statements. Neither of us is going to change the other’s opinion.

        However I do have a few minutes, so let’s get realistic. Mentally take three steps back & look at this a little more objectively. Negotiation is a give and take of benefits. Whatever Mayor says “I can’t give you a cost of living increase, so let’s talk about retiree health benefits.”

        The administration saved money and looked like heroes while they kicked the can down the road and passed the increasing DEBT onto the future Mayors and taxpayers. Place the blame where it belongs, on the administrations not on the Unions.

        In closing the Unions are still very necessary. Look around you, they are under attack! Organized Labor is under siege. They haven’t been attacked like this since the 1920s. A wise man could see this.

  6. I may be contrite, but unions stink. You can’t justify blame only on the administration. Stupid union wonks arrogantly demand while equally stupid administrations cave to threats of ebb and flow loyalties.

  7. yahooy,
    You fail to understand the meaning of negotiation. For every give there is a get. Since Jasper McLevy this City has been a demagoguery. The unions forfeit wage increases in exchange for improved benefits. Both parties must walk away from the table with heads held high. I guess a wise man can’t see this.


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