24-Hour Security Detail Hired to Protect Thomas Built Bus Worker’s Family Against UAW Union Reprisals
High Point, North Carolina (March 15, 2005) – Responding to threats against an employee who led a successful legal challenge to the United Auto Workers (UAW) union’s forced unionization of the Thomas Built Bus facility, the National Right to Work Foundation today commissioned a 24-hour security detail at the employee’s home.
Meanwhile, the Foundation called upon two local district attorneys and police chiefs to open an investigation into the UAW union’s possible role in encouraging reprisals against workers opposing unionization.
The Foundation hired the security firm, Corporate Security International, Inc. which is staffed by former United States Army Delta Force counter-terrorism experts, after menacing flyers were circulated throughout the plant containing Jeff Ward’s phone number and detailed driving directions to his personal residence. A call to arms on the flyer reads “Jeff Ward lives here. Go tell him how you really feel about the union.”
The threat came as Ward successfully settled federal labor charges filed on behalf of his coworkers against the UAW union, Thomas Built, and Freightliner who federal labor prosecutors found had struck a sweetheart deal resulting in the unlawful coercing of employees into union ranks.
In a letter dated today, Foundation staff attorney Bill Messenger called upon the district attorneys for Guilford and Davidson counties, as well as the Thomasville and High Point police chiefs to investigate the harassment in order to protect Ward and his family, who have already begun to receive harassing phone calls late at night.
Referencing the flyer, Messenger urged, “This map constitutes a threat. It is an inducement for individuals to harass or do violence to Mr. Ward's person, family, and/or property, based on his legal cause of action against the UAW. I urge that a thorough investigation be conducted as to the origin of this unlawful threat, and that the perpetrators of this action be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Given the documented role of UAW militants in union violence, it’d be unwise to take chances when it comes to the safety of Jeff Ward, his wife, and his children,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “Union violence is a harsh reality, and Mr. Ward and his family should not have to live in fear simply because he came forward to assert his rights and the rights of his fellow employees.”
Facing prosecution by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), UAW union and Freightliner officials were forced to agree last week to cancel outright a company-wide sweetheart deal in which union officials had unlawfully bargained to cap workers’ wages and made other major concessions in exchange for Freightliner’s active assistance in coercing workers to unionize.
Based on evidence provided by Foundation attorneys, the NLRB’s General Counsel found that Freightliner officials at Thomas Built provided unlawful assistance to the union and held unlawful “captive audience” speeches jointly with union officials to coerce employees to sign union authorization cards that were treated as “votes” in favor of unionization.