Many union members have religious objections to liberal causes funded by unions such as Planned Parenthood. Fortunately for union members, federal and state law requires a union to accommodate a member’s religious beliefs. This usually takes the form of allowing the member to divert all of his or her union dues to a charity that does not offend the member’s religious beliefs. Not surprisingly, some unions do everything in their power to deny members this right by continuously questioning the validity and authenticity of their beliefs. These unions are breaking the law and the Freedom Foundation is stepping in to enforce union members’ religious liberty rights. We call this the Workers of Faith Initiative.
Federal courts have held that the First Amendment, which guarantees the fundamental right to freely exercise one’s religious beliefs, requires all collective bargaining agreements to safeguard the religious rights of union members. This right is also guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects against religious discrimination. If a union member finds the practices of the union to be inconsistent with their religious beliefs, he or she may request an accommodation from their union. Once a union member requests an accommodation based on their religious beliefs, the law requires the union to “accommodate the employee by not requiring the employee to join the organization and by permitting him or her to donate a sum equivalent to dues to a charitable organization.”
However, many union members find their union gives them the run around when they request an accommodation of their religious beliefs. In one recent case where the Freedom Foundation represented a union member, the union required the member to obtain a letter from her pastor, on church letter head, listing the scriptures that prohibited her from being a member of a union. Of course, unions were not invented when the Bible was written so it was impossible to comply with the union’s obnoxious demand. After a letter from the Freedom Foundation explaining how illegal the union’s demand was, the union backed down and now all of the union member’s dues are going to a religious charity that helps women and children in poor countries. Her dues no longer go to her union, which donates heavily to Planned Parenthood.
How did this great result come about? Two things. First, the union member knew her rights so she knew the union must allow her to divert her dues to a charity of her choice. Second, the Freedom Foundation’s Workers of Faith Initiative swung into action. Foundation attorneys who are experts on religious liberty got the union to back down and finally follow the law.
To learn more about the Freedom Foundation’s Workers of Faith Initiative, please contact Greg Overstreet, the Foundation’s Managing Attorney, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-956-3482.