Union officials post coercive notices to mislead workers into dues-paying ranks
Rochelle, IL (September 19, 2013) – An Americold Logistics warehouse employee has filed a federal charge against a local union for violating her rights and posting coercive notices in the workplace designed to mislead workers into dues-paying ranks.
Karen Cox of Dixon filed the federal charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
In June 2012, a local affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) unionized Cox's workplace. However, union and company officials did not reach a contract until June 2013. During that time, Cox began a campaign to remove the unwanted union from her workplace. In August, the workers voted in a secret-ballot election whether to remove the union from their workplace. At the request of the union hierarchy, the results of the election have been impounded pending review by the NLRB.
In September, union officials posted a notice in the workplace demanding workers become full dues paying union members, or they will be fired.
The notice did not inform workers of their rights to refrain from union membership and full dues payments -- rights long upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Also the union falsely stated that the workers must fill out a union dues deduction authorization form as a condition of their employment, although workers cannot lawfully be required to fill out such a form to pay union dues.
Because Illinois does not have Right to Work protections for its workers, Cox and her coworkers could be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment if the union is not removed as a result of the workers' August vote. However, because the results of the election are unknown, Cox asks the Board to allow workers to retroactively refrain from union membership and full dues payments back to the time they were first subject to the union monopoly agreement.
Cox also asks that union officials be required to keep all dues and fees seized from workers in an escrow account pending the results of the August election with the condition that union officials must return the money to the workers if a majority of the workers had voted to remove the union from their workplace.
"Union officials are posting legally-suspect notices to coerce workers into paying full union dues when they may not have to," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Cases like this underscore the need for Illinois to pass a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."