As previously reported on the Freedom@Work blog, four Maryland IKEA workers, with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, won a class-wide settlement with their employer and the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union.
The settlement allowed the four workers and all of their coworkers to retroactively resign from the union and receive refunds for any union dues spent on political activism since September 1, 2012. The settlement came after the workers filed unfair labor practice charges in January and February of this year, because union officials failed to inform them and their coworkers of their rights to refrain from union membership and payment of full union dues. Many workers were threatened with termination by union officials for refusing to join the IAM or pay full dues.
Now, one of the workers has filed a new charge against the union because the union hierarchy has been harassing and threatening the workers for passing out fliers on their own time to their coworkers informing them of their rights under the settlement. Perhaps this should come to no surprise, as union officials often purposely keep workers in the dark about their rights in order to force them to pay more union dues and fees.
For example, in the IKEA workers' case, when one worker asked about his right to refrain from financially supporting the IAM’s political activities, he was told by union officials that he had no such rights. And what little material union officials provided to IKEA employees about their rights was deliberately obscured, even to the point that union officials printed information on employees' right to refrain from full dues-paying membership on the back of a pink piece of paper in tan ink, making it virtually invisible to read.Unfortunately, this type of abuse will continue in Maryland until it passes a Right to Work law. Making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary makes it less difficult for rank-and-file workers to hold union officials accountable.