News Release

Rhode Island School of Design Technician Combats Illegal Union Boss Intimidation and Threats

Union officials refuse to follow Supreme Court precedents

Providence, RI (October 17, 2012) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Rhode Island School of Design technician has filed federal charges against a local union for violating his rights.

Robert Vennerbeck of Providence filed the federal charge against the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Technical Association union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Boston.

Vennerbeck resigned formal union membership and exercised his right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership as upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck case. Under Beck, workers have the right to opt out of paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as members-only events and political lobbying.

According to the NLRB charge, despite Vennerbeck's repeated requests, union officials refuse to follow federal disclosure requirements outlined under Beck and its progeny. As such, union officials refused to provide him with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures and the opportunity to challenge the amount of forced union fees before an impartial decision maker. Additionally, the charge states that union officials refuse to provide a copy of the union's monopoly bargaining agreement with his employer.

In late September, union officials demanded Vennerbeck be fired from his job in an apparent attempt to retaliate against him for exercising his rights.

"RISD Technical Association union bosses are seeking to punish a worker who has the temerity to not toe the union boss line and pay for the union bosses political agenda," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Rhode Island desperately needs a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary."

Twenty-three states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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