Union officials try to punish Verizon employees who decided to work during union boss-initiated work stoppage
Trenton, NJ & New York, NY (September 19, 2016) – Four Verizon employees have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA) unions for violating federal labor law after the employees exercised their right to resign their union memberships during the high profile union boss-ordered strike in April. In three of the cases, union officials illegally demanded that the workers appear before union tribunals, so they could fine or otherwise retaliate against the workers for rejecting union boss demands that they abandon their jobs.
In April, IBEW and CWA union officials announced a coordinated work stoppage and ordered workers up and down the East Coast from Massachusetts to Virginia to abandon their jobs. The strike included IBEW Local 827 and CWA Locals 1111 and 1105, which are the subjects of the four NLRB charges.
Soon after CWA and IBEW union officials ordered the strike, three workers, Joseph Todaro, Gregory Sable, and Jackson Thoby chose to resign from their respective locals and return to work. Under federal law a worker cannot be compelled to participate in a union-boss ordered strike. However under a 1972 NLRB ruling, in order to protect themselves from internal union discipline they must resign their formal union membership before to returning to work, as each of these workers did.
Despite their resignations, these workers were notified by officials of the CWA and IBEW that they were being tried by the unions for violating internal union rules, presumably with the intent to fine them for refusing to heed union boss demands and instead working to support their families. In some similar cases, union bosses have attempted to levy fines as high as $30,000 against workers who exercised their right to continue working during strikes.
A fourth worker, James VanValkenburgh, resigned his union membership and requested that CWA Local 1111 provide him with a Beck notice of his right as a nonmember to pay only the part of dues used for bargaining purposes and allow him to stop paying full dues from the date of his resignation. Local 1111 has so far ignored his resignation and continues to deduct full union dues from his wages.
“Here we see yet another example of union officials trying to punish workers who have exercised their rights to continue working to support their families,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Workers should not be threatened with vigilante vengeance in a union instigated kangaroo court for exercising their right to refrain from full union membership.”