Union officials illegally threatened to have him fired for not joining and paying full dues
San Diego, CA (February 24, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a teenage part-time Ralphs Grocery clerk has won a federal ruling against a local grocery union for violating his workplace rights.
The teenager filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135 union after union officials provided him in July 2013, with a membership packet that illegally stated that new hires must join the union and pay full union dues as a condition of their employment.
The teenager eventually learned about his right to refrain from full dues paying union membership and made multiple inquiries about resigning his union membership and paying reduced dues with UFCW Local 135 officials. His multiple requests were denied, stonewalled, or ignored.
In August 2013, union officials again demanded the teenager join the union and pay full dues and initiation fees or get fired. Union officials also sent a letter demanding that he appear at the union hall if he wished to refrain from union membership. They also demanded his social security number in order to exercise his right not to join the union.
Because California does not have Right to Work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, nonmember workers can be forced to pay part of union dues to keep their jobs. However, workers who refrain from union membership can refrain from paying dues used for union politics and members-only events.
A NLRB administrative law judge ruled that UFCW Local 135 union brass violated the teenager's rights by failing to follow federal disclosure requirements that allow workers to know what amounts they can be forced to pay as a condition of their employment, and explain the union's financial calculations.
The judge also ordered the union hierarchy to rescind its policy requiring new hires to appear in person at the union’s office in order to exercise their rights.
"It took 17 months for this worker to get a ruling holding UFCW union officials accountable for blatantly violating federal law to keep their forced dues gravy train going," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores the need for California to pass a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the principle of voluntary unionism.