Worker slammed with unlawful demands after he exercised right to end union membership and began working for firm outside union’s control
Colorado Springs, CO (May 25, 2021) – A Colorado Springs metal worker has just filed a federal unfair labor practice charge against International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 9 union officials, whom he asserts are illegally trying to fine him tens of thousands of dollars after he resigned his union membership and went to work for a contractor not under union control.
He filed his charge at Region 27 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Denver with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
The worker, Russell Chacon, maintains in his charge that by “issuing unlawful fines and or internal charges” SMART union officials violated his right under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to refrain from all union activities. Under federal law, union officials cannot forbid workers from ending their formal union memberships or mete out internal union discipline on employees who refrain from union membership.
Although federal law going back to 1947 also prohibits union bosses from requiring union membership as a condition of employment, states like Colorado which lack Right to Work protections grant union officials the power to force workers to pay them fees as a condition of getting or keeping a job. In Right to Work states, both union membership and financial support are completely voluntary.
Chacon used to work for Colorado Sheet Metal, a Colorado Springs-based contractor whose employees are under the monopoly bargaining power of the SMART Local 9 union. According to his charge, he sent a letter to SMART union officials resigning his union membership in November 2020 and soon after went to work for Rocky Mechanical, a Pueblo-based firm outside the SMART union’s control.
Chacon’s charge reports that he later received a message from union officials ordering him to pay $21,252 to make up for an alleged “loss of funds” supposedly resulting from his working at a contractor outside the SMART union’s bargaining power. The period for which SMART officials are demanding this payment goes through May 31, 2021, and includes days Chacon has not even worked yet.
“It’s shameful that SMART union officials claim to ‘represent’ rank-and-file metal workers while demanding a devastating sum of money from a worker who has clearly exercised his right to refrain from union activities, and doesn’t even work for an employer under their power anymore,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Colorado workers need the protection of a Right to Work law to ensure that employees cannot be required as a condition of employment to fund a union hierarchy that so flagrantly violates workers’ rights.”
Mix continued: “Other Colorado metal workers who have suffered similar malfeasance from SMART union officials should not hesitate to reach out to the National Right to Work Foundation for free assistance in defending their rights.”
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.