Ravenswood, WV (May 9, 2013) – Four Constellium Rolled Products workers have filed federal charges against a local Steelworker union in the wake of last summer’s union-instigated strike against the company.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the Constellium employees filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The four workers resigned their union membership in the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5668 union before they continued to work during the strike. Under federal law, workers who refrain from union membership are exempt from the union hierarchy’s constitution and bylaws and thus cannot be disciplined for continuing to work during a union boss-ordered strike.
In late March, the four workers received threatening letters from USW Local 5668 union officials stating that the union hierarchy intends to levy retaliatory strike fines against the workers at “the maximum penalty allowed.” Union officials also stated that the workers will be placed “at the bottom of the seniority list,” which is a clear violation of federal labor law.
Because West Virginia does not have Right to Work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, the four workers are still forced to pay part of union dues to keep their jobs. However, under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent upheld in Communication Workers v. Beck, workers who refrain from union membership cannot be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as politics and political lobbying. Despite this Court precedent, USW Local 5668 union officials continue to extract full union dues from the workers’ paychecks.
“USW union bosses are trying to punish workers who had the courage not to toe the union boss line and instead provide for their families,” said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. “Workers should not be forced to abandon their jobs and be denied their right to provide for themselves and their families at the whim of militant union bosses.”
“This case underscores the need for a state Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary,” added Mix.
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. 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, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.