News Release

Machinist Union Hierarchy Faces Federal Prosecution in Wake of Last Summer's Caterpillar Strike

Union officials illegally imposed thousands of dollars in strike fines on workers

Joliet, IL (July 3, 2013) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint against a local Machinist union for violating the rights of three Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) workers in the wake of last summer's union boss-instigated strike against the company.

The NLRB's complaint stems from federal charges filed by three Caterpillar workers, with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, against the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District Lodge 851 union for violating their rights and levying retaliatory strike fines against them.

On May 1, 2012, IAM District Lodge 851 union bosses ordered all of the over 800 Joliet Caterpillar workers on strike. Over a hundred workers worked despite the IAM union boss demands.

After the strike ended, IAM Local 851 union bosses levied fines that likely totaled over a million dollars against workers for continuing to work during the strike.

In response, 50 workers filed federal charges with free assistance from Foundation attorneys alleging that they were never truly voluntary union members and therefore were exempt from the union hierarchy's constitution and bylaws and cannot be disciplined for continuing to work during a union boss-ordered strike.

Although many of those charges have since been withdrawn or settled, the NLRB has issued a complaint for two workers who allege that union officials gave them permission or told them it was acceptable to go back to work and a third worker who resigned union membership before returning to work.

"The NLRB will finally prosecute IAM union bosses now that their pattern of workers' rights abuses has become clear," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "The ugly aftermath of the Caterpillar strike underscores the need for an Illinois Right to Work law."

Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for workers. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the 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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