Christine Stuart file photo
Workers rally two years ago outside the Labor Department for the right to switch unions (Christine Stuart file photo)

A group of former state employee union members, some of whom wanted to change unions after the animosity created by the 2011 concession package, are suing the state and its union in a class-action complaint.

Late last month, about eight current and retired state employees who are members of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 and the Engineering, Scientific and Technical P-4 bargaining group, alleged in court that the state has been withdrawing the full amount of union dues from their paychecks.

In the complaint filed on Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court in Hartford, the employees say that even though they left the union and resigned their membership, the state continued to withdraw the full amount of union dues from their paychecks. Instead, the state should have been withdrawing the lesser “agency fee.”

Individuals who are not members of the union still have to pay a fee because their salary and working conditions are largely based on contracts negotiated by the state and the union. However, they are not required to pay the full amount they would have to pay if they belonged to the union.

“At various dates from 2012 to date, plaintiffs and class members, individually and in writing, resigned union membership in CSEA and objected to the seizure of full union dues from their wages,” the complaint says. “On information and belief, CSEA received and acknowledged Plaintiffs’ and class members’ individual union membership resignations.”

A spokesman for CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 declined comment for this story. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s office, which will be representing the state in the complaint, said they will respond at the appropriate time in court.

The complaint asks that the class include individuals who “resigned union membership in CSEA and thereafter are not or were not union members and who objected to the seizure of fees equal to full union dues from their wages.” It estimates there are likely about 50 people who fall into that category.

“State defendants have seized union fees equal to full union membership dues from nonmember plaintiffs and the proposed class for the benefit of CSEA in the absence of the pre-collection notice and procedural safeguards required by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution before seizing union dues or forced ‘agency fees’,” the complaint says.

The complaint was filed by Martha Dean’s law firm on behalf of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

According to its website, the foundation’s mission is “to eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation, public information, and education programs.”