Company and IAM officials cut blatantly illegal deal to deny 12 non-union members $1,000 bonuses because they oppose union affiliation
Ridgway, PA (August 4, 2022) – A dozen non-union factory employees at Clarion Sintered Metals, Inc., have each received $1,000 in back pay bonuses after being discriminated against by International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 2448 and Clarion Sintered Metals. James Cobaugh, a factory employee at Clarion Sintered Metals, Inc., had filed federal charges against Clarion and IAM as he sought justice for himself and other nonmember workers subject to unlawful discrimination. Mr. Cobaugh received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
Mr. Cobaugh’s charges against the union and his employer were filed on April 22, 2022, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency responsible for enforcing the National Labor Relations Act and adjudicating disputes among private sector employers, unions, and individual employees. The charges came after Clarion Sintered Metals denied $1,000.00 bonuses to workers who exercised their legal right not formally join the union.
Now, rather than face prosecution by the NLRB, both the union and employer agreed to settle the case. In addition to the non-member workers receiving the bonus they were previously denied as a result of the illegal discrimination, both the IAM and Clarion Sintered Metals are required to post notices that inform workers of their rights, including to refrain from joining a union, and that promise not to maintain or enforce such discriminatory agreements going forward.
Because Pennsylvania lacks Right to Work protections for private sector employees, unions can force workers to pay up to 100% of union dues as a condition of keeping their jobs. This means that Mr. Cobaugh, although not a formal IAM union member, can be forced to pay up to 100% of IAM’s union dues to keep his job at Clarion Sintered Metals.
However, formal union membership cannot be required, nor can payment of the part of dues used for expenditures like union political activities. In contrast, in the 27 states with Right to Work protections, union financial support, and membership, is strictly voluntary.
Even in Right to Work states, under federal law union bosses are granted the power to impose ‘representation’ on individual workers against their will, including forcing nonmember workers under union monopoly contracts they oppose. By stripping workers of their right to bargain for their own terms and conditions of employment, individual workers by law are prohibited from negotiating for themselves with their employers for better conditions.
Union officials frequently use these government-granted powers to harm certain workers, for example those workers who based on their productivity would otherwise earn performance bonuses or higher compensation. Although union officials can impose one-size-fits-all monopoly contracts that favor some workers over others, there are some limits on the how union monopoly powers can be used to discriminate.
The U.S. Supreme Court imposed these limits after union officials wielded their powers to negotiate and enforce racially discriminatory contracts (Steele v. Louisville & N.R. Co. et al.). Explicitly discriminating against workers who exercise their legally protected right to not formally join a union and be subject to internal union rules, as the IAM officials did in this case, has also long been illegal.
“Mr. Cobaugh courageously stood up to the union’s unlawful actions, not only for himself, but also for the other nonmember workers subjected to this illegal discrimination,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While union bosses were caught red-handed in this case, the situation highlights how workers less knowledgeable of their legal rights are susceptible to blatantly illegal tactics of power hungry union bosses.”
“The IAM union bosses’ willingness to violate longstanding law shows why all workers, including those in the Keystone State, need the protection of a Right to Work law,” Mix added.
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.