Union officials threaten workers for informing coworkers about settlement

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.

Paris Las Vegas Casino Union Bosses Play High Stakes Game with Worker's Legal Rights

News Release

Paris Las Vegas Casino Union Bosses Play High Stakes Game with Worker's Legal Rights

Union officials threaten nonmember worker with benefits cuts unless she pays union dues

Las Vegas, NV (June 26, 2013) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino worker has filed a federal charge against a local union for violating her right to refrain from union affiliation.

Nani Sugianto filed the federal unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last week against the Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

According to the charge, after union brass signed a new contract with the hotel, a union steward illegally threatened Sugianto that she would lose all of her benefits and her seniority, and would be required to start over again as a new hire, unless she paid union dues even though she is not a union member.

Click here to read the full release.

Ravenswood Steelworker Union Hierarchy Faces Federal Charges in Wake of Strike Intimidation

News Release

Ravenswood Steelworker Union Hierarchy Faces Federal Charges in Wake of Strike Intimidation

Union officials threaten workers who refused to abandon their jobs

Ravenswood, WV (May 9, 2013) – Four Constellium Rolled Products workers have filed federal charges against a local Steelworker union in the wake of last summer's union-instigated strike against the company.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the Constellium employees filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The four workers resigned their union membership in the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5668 union before they continued to work during the strike. Under federal law, workers who refrain from union membership are exempt from the union hierarchy's constitution and bylaws and thus cannot be disciplined for continuing to work during a union boss-ordered strike.

In late March, the four workers received threatening letters from USW Local 5668 union officials stating that the union hierarchy intends to levy retaliatory strike fines against the workers at "the maximum penalty allowed." Union officials also stated that the workers will be placed "at the bottom of the seniority list," which is a clear violation of federal labor law.

Click here to read the full release.

Philadelphia Union Bosses Resort to Threats, Intimidation to Block Nonunion Construction Project

The Philadelphia Daily News has the story:

MATTHEW and Michael Pestronk, two young real-estate developers who came here from Virginia to attend Drexel, are trying to shake up the city’s construction business by hiring nonunion labor at two huge apartment complexes they’re renovating.

But members of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council aren’t happy, and the heated battle of young developers vs. old-school Philadelphia union power has thrown their plans for the Goldtex Building in Callowhill into turmoil.

The Pestronks — Matt, 35, and Mike, 31 — haven’t flinched as the ugly battle has escalated with charges that union members scattered bottles of urine around the Goldtex building at 12th and Wood streets, placed loose asbestos inside another development they’re working on in Germantown and allegedly harassed Matt Pestronk’s pregnant wife and child.

Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident. Union operatives frequently rely on threats, intimidation, and even violence to keep independent-minded workers in line and deter businesses from using nonunion labor. The reasoning behind these thuggish tactics is simple: If nonunion contractors get work, employees might choose to refrain from union membership or work at a nonunion sites, depriving union bosses of more of their coveted forced dues revenue.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of union violence, we encourage you to contact the Foundation's free legal aid program immediately. 

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