Board’s lenient treatment of union officials’ conduct shows need for state Right to Work law
Minneapolis, MN (November 28, 2012) – Teamsters Local 974 union officials are facing federal prosecution for violating the rights of a former New Brighton Ford journeyman technician.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Minneapolis issued a formal complaint against the union after Dylan McHenry of Hammond, Wisconsin filed federal charges against the union with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Because Minnesota does not have Right to Work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, McHenry was still forced to pay fees to the union to keep his job. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation's Communication Workers of America v. Beck case that workers are not required to pay union dues or fees for union boss political activities, lobbying, and member-only events.
Under federal labor and case law, union officials must also provide workers with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures. This procedural safeguard helps inform workers of how their forced union dues are being spent and makes it less difficult for workers to hold union officials accountable. After McHenry resigned from formal union membership, Teamster union officials provided him with an incomplete breakdown of union expenditures.
McHenry initially filed the federal charge after the union hierarchy both refused to follow federal disclosure requirements and took money from his paychecks for its political action committee (PAC) – a clear violation of federal law.
"Amazingly, the NLRB Regional Director dismissed the allegations about the PAC contribution after Local 974 union officials claimed the illegal PAC payments were a 'mistake,'" said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "The regional office refused to direct the union to refund the illegally-seized union dues or impose any other punishment against the union, even though the illegal extractions continue."
"However, the Region will prosecute the union hierarchy for not properly following federal disclosure requirements," added Mix. "To prevent these types of forced unionism abuses in the future, Minnesota needs to pass a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."
Twenty-three states have Right to Work protections for their workers. Recent public polling shows that 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.