In apparent retaliation for participating as an observer in a Labor Board election, union officials attempted to fine Universal Plumbing and Heating employee $4,999

Las Vegas, NV (April 7, 2023) – David Webb, an employee at Universal Plumbing and Heating Inc. has won his legal battle against United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA) Local 525, after UA union officials illegally attempted to fine him.

Webb exercised his right to participate as an election observer during a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)-sanctioned election at his workplace, only to be subjected to the fine attempt by UA officials. In response, Webb, with the assistance of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, filed federal unfair labor practice charges at National Labor Relations Board Region 28 against the UA for violating his rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Unions cannot lawfully discipline nonmembers. Since 2017, Webb has not been a union member and has not paid any dues. Universal Plumbing and Heating Inc. is also not a unionized company. Despite this, UA union officials initiated internal union disciplinary charges against him, attempting to levy a fine of $4,999 for exercising his right to participate in an NLRB-conducted election, including as an official election observer. Union officials apparently initiated the illegal fine attempt after Webb’s coworkers voted against bringing the union into their workplace while Webb served as an election observer.

The charges National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed against the UA union for Webb explained that, because Webb was a non-member since 2017, he could not legally be subject to discipline by the union. Further, the charges noted that the fine was illegal retaliation for his protected NLRA activity in serving as an election observer.

Just 10 days after Foundation attorneys filed Webb’s unfair labor practice charges against the UA, the union capitulated, sending Webb a letter acknowledging they lacked the legal basis for the fine because he was not a union member, and that therefore he was not subject to the fine or any other sanction from the UA Local or national affiliate.

Although union bosses often initiate internal union discipline against voluntary union members, longstanding precedent protects workers who are not union members from being subjected to such retaliatory fines. Further, workers cannot legally be fined by union officials for exercising their protected rights under federal labor law, including participating in an NLRB-supervised election to decide whether or not union officials become the monopoly bargaining “representative” of workers in a given workplace.

Nevada is a Right to Work state, meaning workers cannot legally be required to join or pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of keeping their jobs. However, even in Right to Work states, union officials who have obtained monopoly bargaining control in a workplace are granted the power to impose one-size-fits-all union contracts on all workers, including those who opt out of union membership and would prefer to negotiate their own terms of employment. In the election that triggered the illegal retaliatory fine against Webb, workers voted against granting UA union bosses such monopoly bargaining powers.

“This case was open and shut: Union officials know workers can exercise their rights to participate in an NLRB-sanctioned election and they were caught red-handed violating Webb’s rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Although the fine has officially been dropped, Foundation attorneys remain ready to protect all workers’ right to refrain from union activities.”

“Other workers in Nevada and nationwide facing similar backlash from union officials should know they can reach out to Foundation staff attorneys for free legal assistance in challenging union officials who violate their rights,” added Mix.

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 Apr 7, 2023 in News Releases