ICE collected tens of thousands of dollars in union dues from employees even after the agency helped kill the union, according to a new complaint demanding that Uncle Sam return the money.
Sage Collins, a deportation officer with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he was a member of a union until Aug. 11, when the union was dissolved with permission from 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 union that colluded with ICE to withdraw union protections 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 withholding dues, Mr. Collins.
He says it was very unpleasant to pay union dues for a union that ‘let him down’.
“When AFGE stopped representing non-professional ICE employees like Collins… ICE had an obligation to immediately stop deducting dues from their salaries,” wrote David R. Dorey, an attorney at the Fairness Center, who said the representing Mr. Collins, to the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
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ICE declined to comment, saying it has a policy of not speaking about matters under litigation.
AFGE did not respond to a request for comment.
The complaint is the latest in a bizarre series.
The National ICE Council, which is part of AFGE, filed a complaint last summer alleging that AFGE was mismanaged and did not represent ICE officers very well. Indeed, the council said that AFGE supported political candidates calling for ICE to be abolished, effectively eliminating those jobs.
AFGE retaliated by petitioning to disown the ICE Council, effectively killing the union for ICE officers.
With the agreement 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 for strip clubs, soliciting prostitutes and legal settlements to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct by AFGE’s leadership.
AFGE’s demand to silence the council came three weeks later, and the FLRA approved the petition on August 11.
On August 12, ICE issued a new set of policies to replace those previously agreed upon under collective bargaining.
And the agency was still collecting dues, Mr. Collins said.
“While AFGE elected to stop representing non-professional employees at ICE as of August 11, ICE took union dues in favor of AFGE from the wages of those same employees on August 25, 2022,” his complaint reads.
Mr. Collins says he believes ICE paid the dues to AFGE.
His dues for that salary were $21. Spread across the likely pool of dues-paying members, he said, that would come to about $80,000 in total collected after the union dissolved.