The Center Square [By Vivian Jones]-
A Knoxville flight attendant has filed a federal lawsuit against Transport Workers Union of America Local 577, claiming that the union violated her civil and constitutional rights when it forced her to pay union dues after she objected on religious grounds.
Annlee Post of Knoxville works as a flight attendant for Allegiant Air under a collective bargaining agreement that requires her to join or pay dues to TWU, or lose her ability to control her work schedule, seek promotions, and acquire seniority, according to the complaint.
As a Christian, Post objects to financially supporting the union. She sent two letters to union officials requesting religious accommodation, and offering to make a donation to charity instead. According to the complaint, TWU did not accommodate the request.
After an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was unable to resolve the matter, Post filed the federal lawsuit, claiming that NWU violated her First Amendment and civil rights, as well as her rights as an employee under the Railway Labor Act.
“TWU bosses knew about Ms. Post’s objections, but refused to accommodate them under longstanding EEOC law, instead threatening to take away her bidding privileges, simply because she would not fund their organization in violation of her religious faith,” National Right to Work President Mark Mix said in a statement.
Post’s right to work protections under Tennessee law are overridden by the federal Railway Labor Act, which permits union officials to force union fees as a condition of continued employment. However, Post’s attorneys plan to argue that federal law does not permit unions to force employees to pay union dues for any other reason, such as a requirement to maintain bidding privileges.
The complaint also cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which held that unions cannot force public employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
Post is represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
“Annlee Post and others like her should not have to choose between privileges at work and their religious beliefs,” Mix said. “This case is a reminder why no worker should be forced to fund a union with which they disagree, no matter whether their objection is religious or for any other reason.”
The TWU declined to comment.