NLRB investigating IUOE union bosses for retaliatory termination and seizing dues from employee’s paycheck in violation of longstanding law
Pleasanton, CA (October 17, 2023) – Alexandra Le, an employee of Pleasanton-based materials testing company Construction Testing Services (CTS), has hit International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) officials and CTS with federal charges. The charges state IUOE bosses illegally demanded she join the union as a condition of keeping her job and instigated her firing by CTS when she refused to join. Additionally, Le’s charges maintain that company and union officials violated the law by deducting union dues directly from her paycheck without her permission.
Le, a firestop inspector, filed the charges at National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 32 in Oakland, CA, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. She notes in her charges that IUOE officials not only failed to inform her of her right to abstain from union membership, but also never notified her of her right to pay a reduced amount of union dues as a nonmember.
Because California lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, Le and her coworkers can be forced to pay some dues to the union as a condition of keeping their jobs, even if they’ve abstained from formal union membership. However, as per the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision, even in non-Right to Work states union officials can’t force nonmember employees to pay for union expenses beyond what the union claims goes to bargaining, such as union politics. Other Supreme Court precedents and federal labor laws protect workers’ right to refrain from formal union membership and require union bosses to seek workers’ express consent before deducting dues directly from their paychecks.
In Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are fully voluntary.
“It’s outrageous that IUOE union officials believe they can get me fired simply because I don’t agree with their organization and don’t want to support or affiliate with them,” Le said. “IUOE union officials have been far more concerned with consolidating power in the workplace and collecting dues than caring about me and my coworkers, and I hope the NLRB will hold them responsible for their illegal actions.”
Worker Demands NLRB Step in to Reverse Union-Instigated Firing, Illegal Demands
Le’s charge against the IUOE union states that, after she refused to affiliate with the union, IUOE bosses “caused Charging Party to be removed from the work schedule by her Employer as of October 2nd.” The NLRB v. General Motors Corp. U.S. Supreme Court decision protects the right of workers to refuse formal union membership, even in a non-Right to Work state.
As a remedy, the charge asks the NLRB Regional Director in Oakland to “invoke its authority under Section 10(j)” of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which empowers the Board to seek an injunction from a federal court to stop IUOE and CTS management from committing the unfair labor practices.
“Le’s charges show that IUOE union officials, in their apparent greed for forced dues, have ignored numerous longstanding legal protections for workers opposed to union affiliation,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While the union’s anti-worker actions would be wildly unlawful in any state in the country, they reveal the importance of state Right to Work protections: No worker should be forced to give any amount of their hard-earned paycheck to union officials who threaten and misinform the employees they claim to ‘represent,’ or simply haven’t earned workers’ 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.