(The Center Square) – A Pennsylvania liquor store employee sued his former union in federal court this week over nearly two years of dues he says were deducted from his paycheck in a manner unconstitutional.
Allen Knabb resigned from United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1776 Keystone State (UFCW) in January 2020, but says the organization continued to deduct dues from his pay. This, despite his inability to attend meetings, vote or rely on the union for any type of support.
When pressed on the issue, UFCW pointed to a clause in a membership agreement Knabb signed in 2013 that said he could only stop payroll deductions during a 15-day window between Dec. and December 24 of each year.
When asked why Knabb didn’t resubmit its claim within the time limit last year, Danielle Acker Susanj, vice president and senior legal counsel for the Fairness Center — a legal advocacy group representing Knabb — said. stated that insisting on a review in this window was “arbitrary”. .”
“But they’ve already been given notice twice in the last year and a half, but still take money from his paychecks,” she said. “Clearly it’s not about notice, it’s about forcing him to pay more to the union.”
Acker Susanj said UFCW takes about $30 from each of Knabb’s paychecks — regardless of how many hours he works. She clarified that he is semi-retired and only works part-time.
“Like all public servants, Mr. Knabb has the constitutional right not to financially support a union,” said Nathan McGrath, president of the Fairness Center. “But it appears union officials are more concerned with taking our client’s money than respecting his constitutional rights.”
The Fairness Center regularly continues cases against public sector unions that allegedly violated workers’ rights through clauses in collective agreements that make it difficult to stop payroll dues.
The organization represented at least 10 other officials in similar case and received reimbursement, plus interest, for the illegal practice.
The cases follow a 2018 Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which overturned decades of precedents that required non-members to pay unions “agency fees” or “fair share fees” for collective bargaining costs.