Thuggish union boss behavior underscores need for Colorado Right to Work law
Colorado Springs, CO (September 9, 2014) – A former Michels Corporation construction worker has filed federal charges against the company and a local union for violating his rights and illegally firing him for refusing to pay union dues.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Paul Castle of Fountain filed the federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Shortly after Michels hired Castle in August 4, 2014, Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 578 union officials demanded he join the union and pay union dues as a condition of his employment.
Because Colorado does not have Right to Work protections for workers, nonmember workers can be forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment. However, because of a Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent, Communication Workers v. Beck, workers cannot be compelled to pay the portion of union dues used for the union's political and member-only activities. Union officials are also legally obligated to inform workers of these rights and to provide workers with an independently verified audit of chargeable and non-chargeable expenses.
Castle alleges that when he notified LIUNA Local 578 union officials that he was refraining from union membership and full dues payments, union officials stated that they would not comply with the procedural requirements established under Beck. Furthermore, union officials refused Castle's good faith efforts to pay the union for dues they claimed he owed.
On August 19, union officials sent a letter to Castle demanding he pay union dues for the months of August and September 2014 or he would be fired. Despite Castle's efforts to pay the union the full dues he supposedly owed, he was fired at LIUNA union officials' behest the next day. Adding insult to injury, Michels automatically deducted union dues from his final paycheck.
"No worker should be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This thuggish refusal by union officials to follow even the basic federal statutory protections for workers underscores why Colorado needs to pass a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary."
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for private-sector workers. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.