Union officials prompted employer to illegally decrease pay of worker who exercised right to resign from union under Michigan’s Right to Work law

Ludington, MI (July 21, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Richard Dettman, a Ludington, MI welder, has won a settlement against United Autoworkers, Local 811 (UAW, Local 811) union officials and his employer Harsco Rail. The settlement dictates that Union officials and Harsco amend their collective bargaining agreement, as well as pay additional wages to Mr. Dettman for hours, worked between March 13 and April 23, 2017.

Since 1992, Dettman has worked as a Harsco welder and was a UAW member, but in February 2017 he exercised his right to resign his union membership. He had achieved “Journeyman” status because of his long tenure, which guaranteed him a $0.75 per hour premium based on the workplace contract. An employee’s “Journeyman” card is granted after years of apprenticeship or completion of work related qualifications.

Shortly after his resignation, union officials retaliated against Dettman by stripping him of his “Journeyman” card, and Harsco Rail lowered his wages under the union boss-negotiated monopoly bargaining contract. This violated not only the National Labor Relations Act but is contrary to Michigan’s Right to Work protections.

In response to the illegal retaliation, Dettman filed federal unfair labor practice charges against both the UAW and Harsco with the National Labor Relations Board, utilizing free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. Faced with clear evidence that they had violated Dettman’s legal rights, UAW and Harsco officials settled the case.
Harsco and UAW officials agreed to pay Dettman back wages for hours worked during March-April 2017. But the case was also a victory for all Harsco employees. Harsco and Union officials amended their monopoly bargaining agreement to respect Michigan’s Right to Work law. The agreement now allows any employee, union affiliated or not, to apply for and receive the Journeyman premium if they meet certain requirements.

“Rather than operating as an organization workers would want to join voluntarily, UAW officials resorted to illegal tactics against a worker who bravely exercised his rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “As this case shows, passing Right to Work laws is only the first step in protecting the workplace rights of all workers. Without stringent enforcement of the law, greedy union bosses will do everything they can, including lowering workers’ wages, to stop workers from exercising their rights and resigning their union membership.”

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.

Posted by on Jul 21, 2017 in News Releases