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.