Follows string of other legal actions by workers opposing forced payments to union bosses in wake of party-line Right to Work law repeal

Petoskey, MI (May 7, 2024) – Mechanics, parts department workers, and other auto service-related employees at Brown Motors, a Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep dealer, are seeking a vote to end Teamsters union officials’ ability to demand payment of dues or fees as a condition of employment. Joseph Illes, a mechanic at Brown Motors, submitted a “deauthorization petition” to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing federal labor law. Under NLRB rules, upon receiving a petition from employees, the agency will hold a vote at a workplace on whether to remove the contract provision allowing a union to require dues or fees as a condition of employment.

According to the deauthorization petition, the requested election is sought for all “regular full and part-time parts department employees, mechanics, lubemen, porters and wash rack employees” at Brown Motors.

MI Legislators’ Repeal of Right to Work Continues to Receive Backlash from Workers

Michigan legislators’ party-line repeal of Michigan’s popular Right to Work law became effective in February. This change permits union officials to and enforce requirements that force workers to pay dues or fees to the union. In a non-Right to Work state, employees’ only options to prevent their money from going toward a union agenda they oppose is to petition for a deauthorization vote (as Illes and his coworkers have), or to kick the union out of their workplace completely through a decertification vote, which involves a similar process to deauthorization.

Michigan’s Right to Work law, which took effect in 2013, made union dues payment strictly voluntary for all Michigan workers. Those employees who wished to support the union at their workplace were free to join and pay union dues. Employees who chose to not join the union were not required to pay the union anything to keep their jobs.

The Michigan Legislature voted to repeal the Right to Work Law in March 2023, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed it that same month, despite polling showing that 70% of Michigan voters wanted the law to remain in place.

Since the repeal, Foundation staff attorneys have aided several Great Lakes State workers who are seeking freedom from union dues demands, including security guard James Reamsma and his coworkers who are posted at government buildings across Western Michigan. Reamsma and his colleagues also petitioned for a “deauthorization vote” to stop forced-dues demands from United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) union officials, with Reamsma expressing that in the wake of the Right to Work repeal “UGSOA union officials have threatened to have everyone who does not join the union fired.”

Foundation attorneys also represent Roger Cornett, a Detroit-area Kroger employee who faced post-repeal threats from his employer that he would be terminated if he did not join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union at the store and fund the union’s Political Action Committee (PAC). Both demands are forbidden by federal law, even in a non-Right to Work environment.

“Mr. Illes and his coworkers at Brown Motors in Petoskey are just the latest example that Michigan’s Right to Work repeal does real harm to the freedom of workers across the state,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Workers shouldn’t have to slog through the NLRB’s deauthorization process simply to stop paying fees to a union they don’t support.”

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 about 200 cases nationwide per year.

Posted on May 7, 2024 in News Releases