Union officials illegally refused to recognize a worker’s check-off revocation
Detroit, MI (September 18, 2017) With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a Lapeer county employee has won a ruling at the Michigan State Court of Appeals in a lawsuit challenging Teamsters Local 214 union officials’ illegal refusal to honor her attempt to stop payment of union dues as is her right under Michigan’s Right to Work law.
In 2013, Tina House filed an unfair labor practice charge against union officials for violating her rights under Michigan’s Right to Work protections for public employees. The Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) dismissed her charge, claiming union officials did not impede upon her rights. Yet, last week Michigan’s Court of Appeals overturned that decision, ruling that under section 9 of the state’s Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) Teamsters officials unlawfully refused to recognize her check-off authorization revocation.
House had been a member of Teamsters Local 214 since August 17, 2000, and had signed a dues check-off authorization permitting the union to take union dues and fees from her wages. At the time Michigan did not have a Right to Work law, meaning Michigan workers could be required to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.
But in March 2013, Michigan’s recently passed Right to Work law went into effect, making union membership and financial support strictly voluntary. This gave House the right to stop payment of union dues and fees.
House attempted to exercise this right by sending Teamsters Local 214 union officials a membership resignation letter along with a check-off authorization revocation. She also sent a similar letter to Lapeer County, which immediately stopped deducting dues and fees from House’s paycheck.
However, Teamsters Local 214 officials responded that they were refusing to recognize her check-off withdrawal. According to the union, she could only revoke her dues check-off authorization during a narrow 15 day window period from June 1 – June 16.
In response, House filed charges against the union with MERC, which dismissed the case. Foundation staff attorneys then appealed the decision for House to the Michigan Court of Appeals which has now sided with House. In a three judge decision, the Court of Appeals overruled MERC and ruled that Teamsters officials violated the law by rejecting her revocation request. The decision requires Teamsters officials to recognize her revocation status, after a long three year legal battle.
“Rather than work to attract workers’ voluntary support, Michigan union bosses have responded to Michigan’s Right to Work law with a campaign to ignore the law and stifle any attempt by workers seeking to stop payment of union dues or fees,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Foundation staff attorneys have filed dozens of cases for Michigan workers seeking to exercise the rights guaranteed to them under Michigan’s Right to Work law and we stand ready to aid other Michiganders who want to do the same.”
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, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.