Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 4, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Martin Carter is fighting for worker freedom and the right to stop paying dues to a labor union. He knows Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, backed by Big Labor money, won’t lift a finger to help him.
Carter, an employee at Packaging Corporation of America’s Burlington plant, has filed federal charges against the United Steelworkers union bosses. He says they have refused to even respond to his request to leave the union and stop paying union dues.
Carter filed his complaint late last month with the National Labor Relations Board. He alleges the Steelworkers has “restrained and coerced” him by failing to respond to his request to end automatic dues paid to the union — in violation of Wisconsin’s right -to-work law.
The complaint, filed on behalf of Carter by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, alleges the Steelworkers violated federal labor law by significantly limiting when employees can demand that union dues no longer be taken out of their pay checks.
Carter earlier this year filed a federal lawsuit against the union, arguing that its dues checkoff rules not only violate federal law but also Wisconsin’s right-to-work law by not allowing employees to stop dues deductions at any time with a 30-day notice.
Kaul could have fought Big Labor’s tactics of pinning workers into prolonged dues obligations.
In April, the Democrat AG dropped the state’s defense of the dues checkoff provision in Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, just as it appeared the U.S. Supreme Court was leaning toward taking the case brought by Kaul’s Republican predecessor.
Kaul, the benefactor of big donations from Big Labor, broke a campaign promise that he would defend Wisconsin’s laws. Apparently what the partisan AG meant was that he would defend laws he and his union allies like.
Last year, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a split decision ruled against a provision in state law that allowed private-sector workers the right to back out of automatic union dues agreements within 30 days. The court found that Wisconsin’s more generous timeframe was preempted by federal union dues checkoff laws allowing unions up to a year to siphon member payments from workers checks.
Carter has entered that one-year timetable, and the union refuses to respond, according to the complaint.
The appeals court’s ruling provides more protection for forced union dues, portions of which feed the campaigns of Big Labor’s political allies on the left. Organized labor, a multi-billion-dollar industry, spent more than $2 billion on the 2018 election cycle. The vast majority of that money went to Democrat candidates.
The Supreme Court has in recent years curtailed the power of Big Labor, especially on First Amendment grounds. Mix’s organization won a huge victory last year in Janus v. AFSCME in which the high court ruled that non-union government workers cannot be required to pay union fees as a condition of working in public service.
“If Attorney General Kaul were doing his job and defending the laws of Wisconsin, rank-and-file employees like Mr. Carter would not have to file federal charges at the NLRB to challenge illegal dues deduction schemes,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said in a statement. “Union bosses must not be allowed to block the exercise of rights guaranteed to workers under Wisconsin’s popular Right to Work law.”