New York train operator sues former union over continued dues deductions

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A New York train operator filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week claiming a union he resigned from last year has continued to take dues out of his paycheck.

According to the case filed in the U.S. District Court in New York’s Eastern District, Wayne Wong, who works for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, tried repeatedly to resign from the Transport Workers Union Local 100 starting last June. However, each time, he was told to resubmit.

Finally, Wong claims union officials told him in July he had to submit his resignation in person at the union’s office in New York City.

Even after he complied with that request, the union dues deductions continue.

“Because Mr. Wong has resigned his TWU 100 membership, the First Amendment protects him as a nonmember public employee from having Defendants deduct nonconsensual financial support for TWU 100 from his wages as a condition of employment,” the lawsuit states.

Wong is represented by the Fairness Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm. The lawsuit claims Wong’s Constitutional rights are being violated.

In the lawsuit, Wong seeks the union’s acknowledgment of his resignation, refunding of the dues paid since that time, and potential damages and attorney fees.

The Center Square sent a message seeking comment to TTU Local 100 officials on Friday.

In a statement to The Center Square, Fairness Center President and General Counsel Nathan McGrath and Senior Litigation Counsel Danielle Susanj said Wong is not the first client they’ve taken on who has been strung along by a union.

“We’ve now represented clients in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and New York who have tried to resign from their unions, only to have union officials ignore or deny their resignations,” the lawyers said. “When constitutional rights are at issue, as they are when a public employee chooses whether or not to be a union member, union officials should not feel free to ignore the choice a member wants to make.”

In January, the Fairness Center filed a similar lawsuit for a woman working for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, who raised similar concerns regarding the Public Employees Federation.

Corrections and ClarificationsAn earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Danielle Susanj, senior litigation counsel for the Fairness Center.

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