News reports detail that United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses are continuing their strike order affecting more than 8,000 employees at King Soopers grocery stores across Colorado. Little progress has been reported in bargaining talks, with UFCW officials in Colorado rejecting twelve proposals for a contract after continuous negotiations with King Soopers management.
The situation presents serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-ordered strike. That is why workers confronted with strike demands frequently contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to learn how they can avoid fines and other vicious union discipline for continuing to report to work to support themselves and their families.
The fact is, employees do not have to become or remain members of the UFCW or any other union to get or keep their jobs. Despite the often-misleading language in collective bargaining contracts, no employee is actually required to be a member of a union. And if an employee is not a member of a union, then union officials have no power to fine or discipline him or her. In this way, employees have the right to rebuff union strike demands under federal labor law, but it is important you read the following before you do so.
You should learn about your rights from independent sources and should not rely on what self-interested union officials tell you. For five decades, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has worked in the courts to expand and protect the rights of individual employees in such situations. It is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse.
King Soopers’ employees should know they have the following rights:
You have the right to resign your membership in the union. If you don’t support this union, you can send the union a letter resigning your membership.
You have the right to go to work during a strike. Union officials can (and often do) fine actual union members who work during a strike. So, you should seriously consider resigning BEFORE you return to work during a strike, which is the only way to avoid these union fines and discipline. See Union Discipline and Employee Rights.
You also have the right to revoke your dues check-off and stop allowing the union hierarchy to collect money from your paycheck every week. You can send letters to the union and your employer revoking your authorization to have union dues deducted from your paycheck during periods when there is no collective bargaining agreement in effect.
Because Colorado lacks Right to Work protections, workers who have abstained from union membership may be required to pay partial union dues after a new contract is finalized. However, union nonmembers have a right under the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck (1988) Supreme Court decision to refuse dues payments for union boss political expenses and other expenses not related to collective bargaining and contract administration.
If you wish to eject an unaccountable union hierarchy from your workplace, you have the right to circulate or sign a decertification petition to obtain a secret ballot election to do so. See Decertification Election.
A sample letter for employees who wish to resign their union membership, revoke their dues check-off, and exercise their right under Beck to opt-out of dues deductions for union politics and other non-bargaining expenses is here.
NOTE: If possible, use certified mail, return receipt requested, and save copies of your letters and the return receipt to prove delivery. If you hand deliver a resignation and/or dues deduction revocation, make sure that you have a reliable witness to the delivery. In our experience, it is not uncommon for angry and dishonest union officials to pretend they did not actually receive resignations and initiate proceedings against non-striking workers anyway.
Go to About Your Legal Rights: Private Sector Employee to learn more about your rights, and contact the NRTW Foundation at https://www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 800-336-3600 with any questions.