WALLINGFORD — A union is challenging the town’s decision to stop deducting union dues from two employees, with a hearing before the state’s Board of Labor Relations scheduled for today.
The two employees told the town they wanted to opt out of paying union dues after a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed that earlier this year, Human Resource Director James Hutt said.
It is unclear whether they have since chosen to resume paying dues to the union.
Council 4 ASFCME spokesman Larry Dorman said the union believes the town didn’t take the proper steps in deciding to withhold union dues.
Council 4 AFSCME represents 235 Wallingford employees.
While public sector employees have long been able to opt out of paying dues that fund political activities, unions had been able to collect so-called “agency fees” from all members for costs associated with collective bargaining, although those choosing to do so lost any voting privileges. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the practice in its 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.
In June, the court overturned that precedent in Janus v. AFSCME, ruling 5-4 that employees can fully opt out of paying fees and still be covered by collective bargaining agreements.
Hutt said the two employees, who have not been named in public documents, notified the town of their intention to opt out of paying dues to Council 4 AFSCME after the Janus decision, and the town began withholding their monthly dues of about $42.
Dorman said AFSCME contends the two employees were supposed to go through the union. It also believes the two employees have since stated their desire to again pay dues in order to have their voting rights restored.
If the town and union aren’t able to reach an agreement as part of today’s informal hearing, the complaint will go to formal arbitration.
Kevin Murphy, Council 4’s director of collective bargaining, said that since the Janus decision in June, about 75 members statewide, out of 30,000, have opted out of paying dues.
Janus “was an attack on our ability to represent people and advocate for their rights and freedoms on the job,” Murphy said. “Most of our members understand what the decision was about. We have not had a flood of members leaving Council 4.”