Westerly, RI Part-time Police Officers Ask Court for Injunction to Stop Illegal Forced Dues Scheme
Hello and welcome to this National Right To Work news update.
In Westerly, Rhode Island, five part-time police officers are seeking a preliminary injunction to stop town and union officials from continuing to illegally seize a portion of every paycheck for dues to a union that does not represent them.
With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, Thomas Cimalore, Anthony Falcone, Scott Ferrigno, Darrell Koza, and Raymond Morrone, filed a Civil Rights lawsuit in the United States District Court against the Town of Westerly, several town officials, and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers.
The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs’ First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights (and other state labor and whistle blower protection statutes) are violated when they are forced, as a condition of employment, to financially support Local 503 despite never authorizing or requesting that the town withhold a portion of their paycheck and distribute those funds to Local 503.
Because Rhode Island is a forced-unionism state, workers who choose not to join a union can still be forced to pay fees to union bosses under a union-imposed contract.
However, these five part-time officers are not only nonmembers; they are not even represented under the police union’s monopoly bargaining agreement with Westerly. Despite this, a clause in the union contract with Westerly specifically states that, although not covered by the agreement, these part-time officers are required to pay union fees.
The illegal union deductions from the five part-time police officers paychecks began in April 2014. During the summer of 2014, the plaintiffs allege that the chief of police threatened retaliation against the officers for having publicly raised the issue of this illegal forced-dues scheme.
Following the officers public attempt at redress, the Town revised its “Detail Assignment System” in such a manner that it diminished plaintiffs’ hours and pay. The timing and circumstances of the revision caused the officers to allege the revision was retaliation by the town for their whistle-blowing about the illegal scheme.
Furthermore, on December 4, 2014, Westerly fired plaintiff Darrell Koza without notice or a hearing. Officer Koza has filed a separate suit alleging that his termination was illegal retaliation for publicly speaking out against the illegal scheme.
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