SPFPA union officials continued to collect dues over workers’ objections despite majority vote by employees that ended mandatory payments
New York, NY (April 3, 2017) – Four Brooklyn Verizon employees have filed federal unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union for violating federal labor law after the employees exercised their right to resign their union memberships during a high-profile strike in May 2016. The charges were filed with free legal assistance provided by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
In April 2016, CWA union officials announced a coordinated work stoppage at Verizon facilities and ordered workers up and down the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Virginia, to abandon their jobs. CWA Local 1109, which is the subject of the ULP charges, participated in the multi-state strike.
Soon after CWA union officials ordered the strike, the four workers who filed the charges chose to resign from the union and returned to work. Under federal law, workers cannot be compelled to join a union-boss ordered strike. However, under a 1972 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling, to protect themselves from internal union discipline they must resign their formal union membership before to returning to work, as each of these workers did.
On March 16, 2017, these workers were notified by CWA officials that they were being tried by the union on internal charges of violating the union’s constitution, despite the fact that these workers were not union members when they returned to work and thus are protected by federal law. These four workers turned to the Foundation for assistance, and filed ULP charges with the NLRB.
The union has notified the workers that an internal tribunal, which has no legal jurisdiction over the workers, is scheduled for April 16.
“Once again union officers are blatantly violating the rights of the very workers they claim to represent,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It is outrageous that union officials are resorting to this type of retaliation to ‘punish’ workers who chose to return to work in order to provide for themselves and their families.”
“The Foundation has successfully defended a number of Verizon workers in the New York area who were also threatened with sham trials and five-figure illegal fines, and we are eager to assist these and any other workers in defending their workplace rights,” added Mix.
In 2016, Foundation staff attorneys defended eleven Verizon workers from retaliation by CWA and IBEW union officials after the same April 2016 East Coast strike. Seven of the workers were fined up to $14,000 each for exercising their federally protected rights. The remaining four were threatened by union bosses with “union discipline” that would have resulted in similar fines. In all eleven cases, union officials were forced to settle with the workers with all of the illegal strike fines and threats rescinded.
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.