Chicago, IL (November 6, 2012) – In the wake of last summer’s Machinist union boss-instigated strike against Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), two Caterpillar workers have filed a federal charge against the Machinist union and its local affiliate for violating their rights.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Daniel Eggleston and Steven Olson filed their charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Chicago. Foundation attorneys anticipate more charges will be filed for other Caterpillar workers at the facility.
Eggleston and Olson have refrained from union membership in the International Association of Machinist (IAM) union and its local District Lodge 851 affiliate for years and are thus exempt from the union hierarchy’s constitution and bylaws. However, because Illinois does not have Right to Work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, they are still forced to pay part of union dues to keep their jobs.
Under federal law, workers who refrain from union membership cannot be disciplined for continuing to work during a union boss-ordered strike.
On May 1, Machinist Local 851 union bosses ordered all of the over 800 Rockdale Caterpillar workers on strike. Eggleston and Olson, along with over a hundred other workers, continued to work despite IAM union boss demands.
IAM Local 851 union bosses recently informed Eggleston and Olson, and other workers, that the union hierarchy intends to discipline them for refusing to leave their jobs during the strike.
Moreover, although Eggleston and Olson exercised their right under Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent upheld in Communication Workers v. Beck to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership, Local 851 union officials have continued to extract full union dues from their paychecks. In Beck, the Court held that workers who refrain from union membership cannot be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as politics and political lobbying.
Eggleston and Olson’s charge challenges the union hierarchy’s assertion that it can punish them for continuing to work during the strike. The charge also challenges the amount of forced dues taken from the workers’ paychecks and the cumbersome process workers must take to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership in the IAM union.
“IAM union bosses are trying to punish workers who had the temerity not to toe the union boss line,” said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. “No workers should 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.”
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 around 250 cases nationwide per year.