Additional Caterpillar Workers File Federal Charges Against Machinist Union Hierarchy for Strike Fines
Union officials demand hundreds of thousands of dollars in strike fines from workers
Chicago, IL (April 1, 2013) – In the wake of last summer's Machinists union boss-instigated strike against Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), 24 more Caterpillar workers have filed federal charges against a local Machinists union for violating their rights and levying retaliatory strike fines against them after they continued to work during the strike.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the 24 workers filed their charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Chicago. Foundation attorneys anticipate more charges will be filed for other Caterpillar workers at the facility.
On May 1, 2012, International Association of Machinists (IAM) District Lodge 851 union bosses ordered all of the over 800 Rockdale Caterpillar workers on strike. The 24 workers were among the over hundred workers who worked despite the IAM union boss demands.
Under federal law, workers who are not voluntary union members are exempt from the union hierarchy's constitution and bylaws and thus cannot be disciplined for continuing to work during a union boss-ordered strike.
However, IAM Local 851 union bosses recently levied fines totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars against the workers for continuing to work during the strike.
Some of the workers allege that they were never truly voluntary union members because IAM Lodge 851 union officials never informed them of their right to refrain from union membership. Some workers resigned union membership before returning to work and others have additional defenses to the union officials' outrageous demands of retaliatory strike fines.
Some of the workers allege that union officials (including the union's president) even gave them implicit permission that it was acceptable to go back to work to continue to support their families. Another worker alleges that union militants physically assaulted his wife and child and the union hierarchy has collected twice the normal amount of union dues from his paycheck.
"IAM union bosses are trying to intimidate and punish workers who had the temerity not to toe the union boss line," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Workers should never be forced to abandon their jobs and be denied their right to provide for themselves and their families at the whim of militant union bosses."