Teamster union bosses sought to punish worker for refraining from union membership
Tulsa, OK (April 4, 2013) – An Interstate Bakeries Wonder Bread/Hostess delivery driver has won over $47,000 in back pay and reimbursement from a local Teamster union and the company in a union discrimination case that the union twice appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oklahoma worker Kirk Rammage received free assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation during his seven year legal battle challenging a local Teamster union's discriminatory policy.
Rammage was the single nonunion sales representative with Dolly Madison for over 15 years before his division was merged in 2005 with Wonder Bread/Hostess. Although the company initially wanted to protect Rammage's seniority during the merger, Teamsters Local 523 union officials insisted that union members receive preferential treatment by putting Rammage at the bottom of the seniority roster despite his longer workplace tenure. The company later caved in to the union bosses' demand.
By insisting that Rammage lose his seniority, Teamster officials effectively signaled that union workers took priority over their nonunion colleagues. As a result, Rammage was forced to commute to a new work location more than 70 miles away.
After Rammage filed federal charges against the union, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled against the discriminatory Teamster-imposed policy. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the NLRB's decision on an appeal filed by Teamster union lawyers. Those rulings were later nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 on the ground that the Board lacked a three member quorum at the time of its decision.
The case then went back to the NLRB. Once the Board had a quorum, the NLRB revisited the facts of the case and again concluded that Teamster officials broke the law by discriminating against employees based on their union representation status. The Tenth Circuit upheld the NLRB ruling again on appeal and slapped Teamster Local 523 with monetary sanctions for the frivolous nature of the union's lawyers' second appeal. Teamster union lawyers appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court again, but the Court declined to take the case.
The case then went before a NLRB Administrative Law Judge to determine the amount of back pay and damages the union and employer owe Rammage. The judge ruled last week that Rammage is entitled to $47,337 in back pay and reimbursements. That amount will continue to increase due to interest until Rammage is paid by the union hierarchy and/or the company.
"Justice delayed is justice denied and Mr. Rammage has been denied justice for far too long," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "We hope this latest ruling settles the case once and for all."