IAM Union Quickly Folds in Boeing Technician’s Lawsuit over Unlawful Dues Deductions, Union Must Return Dues
Union bosses used other union locals’ financial data to ‘calculate’ higher forced dues amount than longstanding law allows
Seattle, WA (July 14, 2022) – A technician at Boeing’s Auburn, WA, facility has won a settlement requiring International Association of Machinists (IAM) union officials to return dues money seized from his wages in violation of his rights under Supreme Court precedent. He received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
In May, Boeing technician Don Zueger filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against the IAM union, maintaining the union breached his rights guaranteed by the Foundation-won 1988 CWA v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision. In Beck, the Court ruled that union officials cannot lawfully demand full union dues from objecting private sector workers who abstain from formal union membership.
Under Beck, union officials can only charge union nonmembers “fees” which exclude expenses for things like union political activities. Washington State’s lack of Right to Work protections for its private sector workers means that union officials can compel workers to pay certain fees as a condition of keeping their jobs.
In contrast, in the 27 states that have Right to Work laws on the books, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary. This eliminates the opportunity for union officials to “cook the books” when determining the amount that nonmembers can be required to pay under threat of termination.
IAM Dues Scheme Used Audits from Other Union Locals to Impose Illegal Dues Rate on Worker
According to Zueger’s lawsuit, in February he resigned his union membership and asked IAM union officials to decrease his dues payments as the Supreme Court’s Beck precedent requires.
IAM officials responded by claiming that, under the union’s nationwide policy, nonmember forced fee amounts come from averages of selected audits that in each case include nine other local and district IAM affiliates. This means that IAM officials did not calculate Zueger’s compulsory union fee rate using the actual percentages determined in the audits of the local and district IAM affiliates that Zueger must subsidize as a condition of employment.
Unsurprisingly, this policy resulted in Zueger’s forced dues amount being higher than it would have been had union officials followed Beck and only used the audits for the district and local affiliates Zueger is forced to fund.
Zueger’s lawsuit sought to force IAM union bosses to return all money taken in violation of Beck and to properly reduce his future union payments in accordance with Beck.
Settlement Requires IAM Union to Return Illegally Seized Dues
Rather than attempt to defend their scheme which increased Zueger’s forced fee amount, IAM union chiefs quickly backed down and settled the case. IAM union officials have now, as the settlement mandates, returned to Zueger the difference between the required forced fees amount and the illegal amount the union imposed on him.
Going forward, the settlement forbids IAM union officials from demanding from Zueger any money in excess of the actual reduced Beck portion. The settlement vindicates Zueger’s Beck rights, though these are limited compared to the full protections of a Right to Work law.
“Mr. Zueger’s quick victory in this case likely indicates IAM union bosses had no confidence that their ‘averaging’ dues scheme would survive any serious judicial inspection,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “It’s shameful that union officials continue to search for ways to violate the decades-old Beck Supreme Court precedent and overcharge workers who clearly want nothing to do with the union and its agenda – a big concern as union politicking heats up in advance of midterm elections.”
“This scheme to artificially manipulate forced fees calculations is part of the IAM’s nationwide policy, so almost certainly other workers in Seattle and across the country are also being subjected to the same illegal calculations,” added Mix. “The Foundation has helped workers exercise and defend their Beck rights for years, and workers should reach out to us for free legal aid if they encounter illegal dues demands.”
Workers can request free legal aid from the Foundation by calling 800-336-3600 or through the Foundation’s website at https://www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid/.
Teamsters officials unsuccessfully challenged ballots of majority of workers
Louisville, KY (July 5, 2022) – After a months-long effort, Paul Garvin and his coworkers at DSI Tunneling in Louisville have successfully exercised their right to vote unpopular Teamsters union officials out of their workplace. Garvin, who led the effort and submitted the petition for a vote to decertify the Teamsters, received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 9 in Cincinnati certified the election result on June 28. The NLRB is the agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law, a duty which includes administering votes to certify or decertify unions.
Garvin and his colleagues’ effort faced headwinds from Teamsters union officials, who challenged the ballots of several new DSI employees. The NLRB rejected the union’s contentions against the ballots in their entirety, and ordered the ballot count which was conducted on June 8 and included ballots from the entire work unit under the Teamsters union’s control.
NLRB Rejects Union Attempt to Disenfranchise Over Half of Unit
Garvin first submitted a petition for a vote on whether to remove the union on October 15, 2021, signed by the requisite number of his colleagues to trigger such an election. While the NLRB administered a mail-ballot election about a month later, union officials challenged more than half the ballots cast on the grounds that a group of new DSI employees are somehow “agents of the employer” and that they are temporary employees technically excluded from the unit.
NLRB regional officials in Cincinnati shot down Teamsters’ bosses arguments, stating that “There is no evidence that the employees had actual or apparent authority to act as agents of the Employer,” and that DSI management had provided “sufficient evidence that there was a mutual understanding of the employees that they hold permanent positions with the Employer.”
Regional NLRB officials then counted the ballots cast in the election, which revealed that 60% of the unit had voted to remove Teamsters officials from monopoly bargaining power at their facility.
NLRB in Washington Seeks to Hinder Workers Who Want to Oust Unwanted Unions
Garvin and his coworkers’ successful ouster of unwanted Teamsters officials comes as the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, DC, has announced that it will initiate rulemaking to overturn 2020 Foundation-backed reforms that strengthened the ability of rank-and-file workers to obtain elections to remove unwanted union representation. The reforms generally prevent often-unverified union boss allegations against employers from stopping workers from voting in union decertification elections.
“We are pleased that Mr. Garvin and his coworkers were finally able to oust unpopular Teamsters officials, and we were proud to support them in their endeavor,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Teamsters officials tried to use ultimately-rejected allegations to invalidate the voices of more than half of the DSI employees they claim to ‘represent,’ demonstrating that workers need more, not less, protection for their right to vote in secret on whether union officials should stay in power at their workplaces.”
Northern KY Worker Asks State Official to Prosecute Steelworkers Union for Violating Kentucky Right to Work Law
Union bosses illegally force workers to join and financially support union despite 2017 law making union support strictly voluntary
Frankfort, KY (June 30, 2022) – An Erlanger, KY-based employee of paper bag manufacturer Duro Hilex Poly is asking the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet Secretary to prosecute the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 832 union and the company for violating Kentucky’s Right to Work law. The complaint notes that Local 832 officials are illegally demanding both union membership and full dues payment from workers as a condition of staying employed, a clear violation of the Commonwealth’s Right to Work law that makes union membership and financial support strictly voluntary.
The employee, Melva Hernandez, is receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. She maintains that the company deducted dues money illegally from her paycheck for the union as the result of a forced unionism contract provision that cannot lawfully be enforced in Kentucky. Because the dues seizures and other conduct the union perpetrated are also illegal under federal law, she has also filed federal unfair labor practice charges at National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 9 in Cincinnati.
In Kentucky and 26 other states with Right to Work protections, union membership and union financial support are strictly voluntary and the choice of each individual worker. Private-sector workers employed in states lacking such protections must rely on federal labor law, which authorizes union officials in non-Right to Work states to demand some union “fees” from workers under their control as a condition of employment. Kentucky enacted Right to Work in 2017, one of five states to pass a Right to Work law since 2012.
Even though federal law permits compulsory union “fees” in non-Right to Work states, it prohibits compulsory union membership and requires union officials to obtain written consent from a worker before deducting union dues or fees directly from his or her paychecks.
Union Officials Forced Duro Employee into Membership & Dues Payment, Sought to Ban Speech Critical of Union
Hernandez has worked at Duro Hilex Poly since 2011 and maintains that she was “forced to become and remain a member of the union and pay dues as a condition of employment,” despite never signing any document authorizing dues payment.
Her complaint to the Kentucky Labor Cabinet recounts that she first submitted a letter to union officials in August 2021 exercising her right to end her union membership and all dues deductions to the union. A union agent rejected her request, alleging that it would only be accepted within a so-called “escape period” created by union officials.
The complaint says Hernandez resubmitted her request in April 2022 on a date falling within the “escape period,” only to be redirected by union agents to USW Local 832 President Tara Purnhagen.
After Hernandez tendered her resignation to Purnhagen, “Ms. Purnhagen scolded and harassed me, accusing me of trying to convince my fellow co-workers to drop their union memberships,” Hernandez’s complaint says. Purnhagen also forbade Hernandez from discussing with her coworkers reasons to refrain from union membership.
“As of today’s filing, the company and the union have not reimbursed me for the money seized in union dues in violation of Kentucky law,” the complaint says.
Hernandez points out in the complaint “These acts violate [Kentucky’s Right to Work law] because it is unlawful to require employees, as a condition of employment, to become or remain members of a labor organization or to pay any money to a labor organization as a condition of employment.” Her federal charges argue that union officials’ actions also infringe on her rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which protects the right of workers to abstain from union activities if they choose, and not be retaliated against by union officials for exercising or advocating that right.
Current Gubernatorial Administration in Kentucky Has Deep Ties to Big Labor
The Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary is responsible under state law for investigating and prosecuting violations of Kentucky’s Right to Work protections. However, the current secretary, Jamie Link, was appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear, a noted opponent of Right to Work protections. Union bosses helped propel the Beshear Administration to power with well over $1 million last election cycle. It remains to be seen whether Link will carry out his duty to enforce the Right to Work law.
“Steelworkers union officials behave as if Kentucky’s Right to Work protections don’t exist, enforcing contracts that blatantly contradict the law and demanding years of illegal dues from rank-and-file workers like Ms. Hernandez in clear violation of their rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Secretary Link must prosecute this rank disregard for worker freedom and demonstrate that nobody is above the law, including politically-connected union bosses.”
Hundreds of Minnesota Mayo Clinic Nurses Seek Vote to Free Themselves of Unwanted Union ‘Representation’
Nurses signed decertification petition filed with Labor Board to end Minnesota Nurses Association officials’ monopoly bargaining powers
Mankato, MN (June 27, 2022) – Hundreds of healthcare workers at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minnesota have signed a petition seeking a vote on the removal of the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) union, affiliated with the National Nurses United. The workers’ decertification petition was filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 18 office in Minneapolis, MN with free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
Brittany Burgess, a registered nurse of the Mayo Clinic, filed the petition. The request seeking to end MNA union officials’ monopoly bargaining powers at the Mayo Clinic was signed by more than two hundred nurses in the bargaining unit, well over the number needed to trigger an NLRB-conducted secret ballot vote to remove the union.
Minnesota is not a Right to Work state, meaning workers can be forced to pay dues or fees to union officials as a condition of getting or keeping their jobs. If the workers’ vote is successful, MNA union officials will be stripped of their monopoly “representation” powers, including the ability to impose a forced dues requirement on the nurses in the bargaining unit.
National Right to Work Foundation legal aid has recently assisted workers in numerous successful decertification efforts across the nation, including workers in Kansas, Illinois, and Delaware. Because the NLRB has made the decertification process unnecessarily complicated, workers often need to turn to Foundation attorneys for free legal aid in navigating the process.
Foundation-advocated reforms to decertification elections that were adopted by the NLRB in 2020 have curtailed union officials’ abuse of so-called “blocking charges” to delay or block workers’ from exercising their right to decertify a union on the basis of unproven allegations made against an employer, often completely unrelated to workers’ desire to free themselves of the union. However, just days ago the Biden-appointed NLRB majority announced it was starting rulemaking to overturn those reforms and make it easier for union officials to block decertification votes no matter how many rank-and-file workers want a vote.
“Ms. Burgess and her coworkers, who provide lifesaving medical care to the people of Minnesota, should not have to be subjects of Minnesota Nurses Association union bosses whose so-called ‘representation’ they oppose,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “These nurses represent just one example in what has been a surge of decertification efforts over the past year, which makes it all the more outrageous that the Biden Board has announced it intends to give union bosses more power to block workers from exercising their statutory right to vote out unions they oppose.”
Worker Advocate Slams Biden Labor Board Plan to Gut Reforms Protecting Workers’ Right to Vote Out Unwanted Unions
Biden NLRB announces rulemaking to expand union boss power to block decertification votes and trap workers in union ranks opposed by rank-and-file
Washington, DC (June 24, 2022) – National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix today slammed the National Labor Relations Board’s announcement that it would be initiating rulemaking to overturn 2020 reforms that strengthened the ability of rank-and-file workers to hold votes to remove unwanted union representation:
“With this announcement, the Biden NLRB has signaled its abandonment of any pretense of protecting the free choice rights of workers opposed to union affiliation. While the Foundation-backed 2020 reforms provided much-needed protections of the right of workers to vote in secret on union ‘representation,’ the Biden-appointed majority is showing once again that its priority is protecting union boss power, even when it means undermining the clear, statutory rights of employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act.
“By seeking to destroy these modest checks on union boss control, the Biden NLRB will make it easier for workers to be trapped in union ranks, including forced dues payment, even when a majority of workers oppose union officials’ so-called ‘representation.’ This move may serve the interests of the Big Labor politicos who helped put Biden and his allies in Congress in office, but it is a blatant attack on the rights of the rank-and-file workers of America, who have overwhelmingly chosen not to affiliate with a labor union.”
Pro-Voting Reforms in Crosshairs of Union-Label NLRB
The 2020 reforms now targeted by the Biden NLRB changed how the agency deals with union “blocking charges,” which are filed by union officials to prevent rank-and-file employees from exercising their right to vote to remove (or “decertify”) a union.
Under old rules, union officials could block workers’ requested votes from taking place for months or even years by making any type of allegations against the employer. When applied properly, the 2020 changes prevent “blocking charges” from stopping an election in most cases, and permit unfair labor practice charges surrounding an election to be taken up usually only after a vote tally has been released.
In some Foundation cases, NLRB bureaucrats have blocked employee-requested elections based on “blocking charges” alleging employer misconduct unrelated to the workers’ desire to oust the union, or even based on supposed employer wrongdoing that took place outside of the employee unit seeking such a vote.
The NLRB in 2020 also substantially eliminated the so-called “voluntary recognition bar.” Union officials used this scheme to block workers from requesting a secret-ballot election after a union was installed as a monopoly bargaining agent through an abuse-prone “card check” drive.
“Card check” bypasses the NLRB secret-ballot process and lets union officials demand so-called “authorization cards” directly from workers – conduct that would be patently illegal in any secret-ballot setting.
The NLRB in 2020 instead reinstated a system secured by Foundation staff attorneys for workers in the 2007 Dana Corp. NLRB decision, which permitted workers to challenge the result of a “card check” drive by petitioning for a secret-ballot vote. Thousands of workers took advantage of the Dana process post-2007, but the Obama NLRB voided employees’ Dana rights in 2010.
Additionally, the NLRB in 2020 changed its rules to crack down on construction industry schemes through which employers and union bosses unilaterally install a union in a workplace without first providing proof of majority union support among the workers. Foundation staff attorneys represented a victim of such a scheme in a key case (Colorado Fire Sprinkler, Inc.) that ended when a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously reversed the Obama Board and ruled for the worker who had been unionized despite no evidence of majority employee support for the union.
Workers Slam Grocery Union Officials with Federal Charges for Illegal Fines Topping $3,000 for Working during UFCW Strike
Charges: Workers weren’t formal union members and exercised legal right to work but were still subjected to excessive, punitive fines
Denver, Colorado (June 20, 2022) – Today, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed charges against United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 union for illegally levying fines against King Soopers grocery chain workers who chose to exercise their right to work during a strike. Charges against the union were filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The unlawful fines issued by union bosses against the workers are more per day than the workers earned in a day of work, totaling more than $3,000 throughout the 10 day strike.
UFCW officials demanded that workers strike against King Soopers grocery stores for more than a week in January 2022, impacting more than 8,000 employees. In response, Foundation staff attorneys issued a legal notice informing the affected workers of their rights that union officials often hide, including that the workers have the right to continue to work to support their families.
“The situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-ordered strike,” the legal notice reads. “That is why workers frequently contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to learn how they can avoid fines and other oppressive union discipline for continuing to report to work.”
During past UFCW-instigated strikes workers faced similar unlawful fines, which union officials claim can only be disputed at internal union kangaroo courts. However, with free legal aid from the Foundation, workers have successfully challenged such fines on the grounds that union bosses have no authority to levy such fines against workers who are not fully voluntary union members.
As today’s charges note, that is the case for King Soopers grocery workers Nick Hall and Marcelo Ruybal, whom union bosses are threatening to fine $812 and $3,800 respectively despite them not being voluntary union members. According to one news report, UFCW Local 7 union officials threatened workers who exercised their right to work during the strike that they “shall be subject to a fine of $250 per day of the violation, as well as all monies earned by you from King Soopers during said dates of these violations.”
In a similar case for two Stop & Shop grocery workers in New England, Foundation staff attorneys won a settlement earlier against UFCW officials for issuing illegal fines for working during an April 2019 strike. That settlement required UFCW union officials to post remedial rights notices in over 70 Stop & Shop stores and return dues seized from the two workers in violation of their rights.
“Once again union bosses have been caught red-handed retaliating against rank-and-file workers who exercised their rights to work despite the UFCW’s strike demands,’” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “No worker should have to pick between feeding their family and toeing the union line, and we’re proud to assist these workers in standing up to union bullies.”
“Other King Soopers workers facing similar fines should know they can reach out to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal assistance in challenging such excessive, retaliatory fines,” added Mix.
Southern IL Aluminum Worker Slams IBEW Union with Federal Charge for Illegally Seizing Dues for Politics
Union officials had police bureau rescind benefit after employees exercised their First Amendment right to abstain from formal union membership & dues
Murphysboro, IL (June 17, 2022) – Penn Aluminum International employee Mary Beck has filed a federal charge against International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 702 after union officials unlawfully seized money from her wages without her consent and without proving that a contract mandating such deductions is even in effect.
As detailed in the charge, the Murphysboro aluminum worker informed local union officials twice that they have no legal authority to deduct money from her paycheck, but union officials ignored her and instead illegally continue to seize full union dues, including dues for union political activity.
Beck’s charge was filed at National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 14 in St. Louis with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Additionally, her case says union officials violated federal labor law by refusing to even respond to her requests to stop dues deductions.
As Beck’s unfair labor practice charge notes, she sent a letter to IBEW union chiefs and her employer in January 2022, exercising her right to resign her union membership and end any union dues deductions she was not required to pay in order to keep her job. Her letter also demanded a copy of any contract that gives IBEW officials the power to require dues payment as a condition of employment. When she received no response, she redelivered this letter by hand in March 2022.
IBEW Union Bosses Didn’t Show They Can Legally Take Dues from Worker, Take Money Anyway
Because Illinois lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, union officials can legally force workers in facilities under union control to pay some union fees just to stay employed. However, union bosses lose this legal privilege if there is no monopoly bargaining contract in effect between the union and management in the workplace. Under longstanding law, union officials must also gain consent from a worker before they can directly deduct compulsory fees from his or her paycheck.
In contrast, in the 27 Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary and the free choice of each individual worker.
Additionally, nonmember workers governed by a union monopoly bargaining contract have a right under the Foundation-won 1988 CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision to object to paying any union fees beyond what union officials claim goes toward core bargaining activities. This amount excludes money used for union political expenditures. Beck’s letter asked that all union deductions cease if IBEW bosses failed to provide a valid contract, and reduce her dues as per CWA v. Beck if they were able to provide such a contract.
To date, Beck’s charge says, the union has not responded to her written request, full union dues (including dues for politics) are still coming out of her paycheck, and she has not received a copy of a union contract.
Beck’s charge states that IBEW bosses are violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by “accepting fees from Charging Party’s paycheck without a consent or a collective bargaining agreement” and by “failing to respond in a timely manner to Charging Party’s January and March letters.” These actions violate Beck’s right under the NLRA to abstain from union activity, the charge says.
Illegal Forced-Dues-For-Politics Trickery Likely to Increase as Midterm Elections Near
Beck’s charge comes after union bosses spent near-record sums on politics during the 2020 election cycle. A report by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) released in 2021 revealed that union officials’ own filings show about $2 billion in political spending during the 2020 cycle, money primarily from dues-stocked union general treasuries, including dues from workers in non-Right to Work states who would be fired if they refused to financially support union activities. Moreover, other estimates strongly suggest that actual union spending on political and lobbying activities actually topped $12 billion in 2019-2020.
“IBEW union officials in Illinois, a non-Right to Work state, already have the legal power to demand that dissenting workers like Ms. Beck subsidize some union activities against their will. The fact they are taking money from her well in excess of the legal limit – months after she requested a stop – demonstrates they value power and influence far above workers’ individual rights,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “As midterm elections near and union officials seek to defend their government-granted power to force workers to pay up or else be fired, workers should not hesitate to contact the Foundation to challenge forced-dues-for-politics situations like the one that Ms. Beck is facing.”
After failing to block the vote using cynical legal arguments, OPEIU union officials ran away rather than face loss in decertification election
Rochester, MI (June 13, 2022) – Lab technicians at Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital in Michigan, have finally won their effort to be free of unwanted so-called” representation” by union officials of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 40. After workers secured a decertification vote over union officials’ objections, the union disclaimed interest in representing the bargaining unit rather than face a vote of the workers they had claimed to “represent.”
Ascension workers Alyse Gschwender and Delaney Warren received free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys during the decertification process before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The petition for the vote to remove OPEIU officials, which signed by numerous Ascension lab technicians, was filed April 6, 2022, by Ms. Warren. After she took a position outside of the bargaining unit, Ms. Gschwender became the petitioner.
During the protracted process, Foundation staff attorneys successfully fought off OPEIU union lawyers’ efforts to block the vote cited the pending sale of the facility by Ascension to LabCorp as grounds for rejecting the workers’ request for an election. Union lawyers had urged the NLRB to block a vote whether to remove the union on the grounds of an upcoming “cessation of operations” by the employer, a policy previously applied only to certification elections.
In briefs to the NLRB Foundation staff attorneys countered that such grounds for blocking the vote were unjustified both as a matter of law and considering the facts of Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital’s announcement regarding the potential transfer of the operation to LabCorp. Foundation attorneys also noted that the attempt to block the vote was likely a cynical attempt to keep power over the bargaining unit, because if the sale ultimately went through the union would have likely sought to block a decertification vote citing the NLRB-created “successor bar” that insulates union officials from decertification votes after an employer’s change in ownership.
The Board rejected the union lawyers’ arguments and scheduled a decertification vote by mail-in ballot with the votes set to be counted later this month. However, rather than go forward with a vote they apparently knew they were going to lose, OPEIU officials instead disclaimed interest in the unit, finally giving the workers the freedom from unwanted union representation they sought.
Because Michigan is one of 27 states with Right to Work protections for private sector employees, unions cannot force workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of keeping their jobs. However, even in Right to Work states union officials are empowered to impose monopoly representation on entire units of workers even over the objections of many workers within the unit, necessitating decertification elections to remove unwanted union “representation.”
“No worker anywhere should be forced under a union’s so-called ‘representation’ against their will. Foundation staff attorneys stand ready to provide legal aid to workers wanting to hold a decertification election to oust a union they oppose and believe they would be better off without,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This case shows the lengths union lawyers will go to block workers from even holding votes to remove a union, even when union officials know that the vote will likely demonstrate that most workers want nothing to do with the union.”
NLRB charges filed against union and employer after company fired worker for exercising his right not join the union
Jackson, MN (June 8, 2022) – Jannie Potgieter, who up until recently was a freight employee at industrial park USF Holland in Jackson, Minnesota, has filed federal charges against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120 union and his employer. Mr. Potgieter’s charges say that Teamsters bosses became hostile because he exercised his right not to be a union member, and that USF Holland officials illegally terminated him at Teamster officials’ behest. Mr. Potgieter is receiving free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
Mr. Potgieter’s charges were filed on May 27, 2022, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act and adjudicates disputes among private sector employers, unions, and individual employees. The charges state that on May 18, 2022, a USF Holland manager discharged him because he exercised his rights under Communications Workers of America v. Beck (1988).
Because Minnesota lacks Right to Work protections for private sector employees, unions can force them to pay union fees as a condition of keeping their jobs. However, under Communications Workers v. Beck, a U.S. Supreme Court decision won by Foundation staff attorneys, formal union membership cannot be required, nor can payment of the part of dues used for non-bargaining expenditures like union political activities. In contrast, in the 27 states with Right to Work protections, union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary.
Recently, Foundation attorneys aided Remmington Duk after his employer, Robert Basil Buick GMC, and International Association of Machinists (IAM) illegally terminated Mr. Duk for exercising his Beck rights. In that case both the employer and union quickly backed down, ultimately paying Duk more than $18,000 in settlements, in addition to being required to post notices informing other workers of their Beck rights.
“Foundation attorneys will continue to defend workers who are illegally threatened by union officials for exercising their rights, including not to become a formal union member and not to fund union political activities,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Employers that illegally fire workers at the behest of union officials will similarly be held accountable by Foundation attorneys.”
“Ultimately, this case shows why Minnesota workers need the protection of a Right to Work law to ensure all union payments strictly voluntary,” Mix added. “While Mr. Potgieter knew his rights enough not to simply give into Teamsters’ bosses illegal demands, there are almost certainly countless other workers who pay out of fear, not only for their livelihoods but also as a result of the Teamsters and other union bosses’ well-earned reputation for deploying thuggish tactics.”