ICE collected tens of thousands of dollars in union dues from employees even after the agency had helped to kill off the union, according to a new complaint demanding that Uncle Sam pay back the money it took.
Sage Collins, a deportation officer at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he was a union member up until Aug. 11, when the union was disbanded with the consent of ICE. But the agency continued to withhold union dues from his next paycheck.
ICE then turned the money over to the American Federation of Government Employees, the very union that had colluded with ICE to revoke union protection for ICE officers, Mr. Collins says in his complaint.
It wasn’t until his first paycheck in September, or nearly a month after the union’s demise, that ICE stopped deducting dues money, Mr. Collins said.
He says it was particularly obnoxious to be charged union dues for a union that “abandoned” him.
“Once AFGE stopped representing non-professional ICE employees such as Collins … ICE had a duty to stop deducting dues from their paychecks immediately,” David R. Dorey, a lawyer at the Fairness Center, which is representing Mr. Collins, wrote to the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
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ICE declined to comment, saying it has a policy of not speaking about matters that are in litigation.
AFGE didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The complaint is the latest in a bizarre sequence of events.
The National ICE Council, which had been a part of AFGE, filed a complaint last summer alleging that AFGE was mismanaged and wasn’t representing ICE officers very well. Indeed, the council said AFGE backed political candidates who called for abolishing ICE, which would effectively eliminate those jobs.
AFGE retaliated by filing a petition to disown the ICE Council, effectively killing the union for ICE officers.
With the concurrence of ICE, that petition was approved by the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
The move left ICE officers without a collective bargaining agreement and erased a prominent critic of the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
The ICE Council’s original complaint over the summer alleged that AFGE misused union money on strip clubs, solicitation of prostitutes and legal settlements to hush up allegations of sexual misconduct by AFGE’s leadership.
AFGE’s demand to squelch the council came three weeks later, and the FLRA approved the petition on Aug. 11.
On Aug. 12, ICE issued a new set of policies to replace the ones that had been previously agreed to under collective bargaining.
And the agency still collected dues, Mr. Collins said.
“Even though AFGE chose to stop representing non-professional employees in ICE as of August 11, ICE took union dues for AFGE’s benefit from those very employees’ pay on August 25, 2022,” his complaint charges.
Mr. Collins says he believes ICE paid the dues money over to AFGE.
His dues for that paycheck amounted to $21. Spread across the likely pool of dues-paying members, he said, that would work out to about $80,000 total that was collected after the union had been nixed.