Work unit spans several states; union bosses disclaimed interest after Winchester, VA-based worker submitted enough employee signatures for ouster vote
Winchester, VA (October 30, 2023) – Employees of tire wholesaler Max Finkelstein from Virginia to Maine have successfully freed themselves from the control of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) officials. The worker victory comes after Winchester, VA-based Max Finkelstein truck driver Christopher Dorney submitted a petition on behalf of his coworkers asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a vote to remove the union. Dorney received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing private sector labor law and administering elections to install or remove unions. By NLRB rules, Dorney’s petition contained enough signatures from his colleagues across several states to prompt a union decertification vote.
Because the work unit spans multiple states, the RWDSU union exercised varying amounts of power over Dorney and his coworkers. In states that lack Right to Work protections, such as Maine, New York, and Maryland, RWDSU union officials could enforce agreements with Max Finkelstein management that required workers to pay union dues simply to keep their jobs. In Right to Work states like Virginia, in contrast, union dues payment and union membership are strictly voluntary. However, federal law gives union officials in all states the power to impose their “representation” over every worker in a unionized workplace, even those who are not union members or oppose the union’s agenda.
However, late last week RWDSU officials announced they were departing the work unit, possibly to avoid an embarrassing rejection by workers at the ballot box.
“We warehouse workers and drivers at Max Finkelstein may be from many different facilities in many different states, but we are in agreement about one thing: RWDSU union officials don’t represent our interests,” commented Dorney. “It’s our right under federal law to challenge RWDSU’s forced representation power.”
RWDSU Faces Another Setback as Employees Increasingly Oppose Unions
The RWDSU union has recently tried several high-profile unionization campaigns at Amazon warehouses across the country, most notably at the large Bessemer, AL, facility, where employees voted against the union by substantial margins in both 2021 and 2022. Gallup polling shows that 58 percent of nonunion workers are “not interested at all” in joining a union.
Workers currently under union control are also increasingly seeking to obtain votes to free themselves, often with Foundation aid. Currently, the NLRB’s data shows a unionized private sector worker is far more likely to be involved in a decertification effort than their nonunion counterpart is to be involved in a unionization campaign. NLRB statistics also show a 20% increase in decertification petitions last year versus 2021.
Biden Labor Board Seeks to Stifle Workers’ Right to Vote Out Unwanted Unions
Dorney and his coworkers’ effort comes as the Biden NLRB in Washington, D.C., is attempting to make it more difficult for workers to exercise their right to remove unwanted unions, while giving union officials more tools to gain power in a workplace without even a vote. The NLRB is expected to soon issue a final rule overturning the Election Protection Rule, a Foundation-backed 2020 reform which made commonsense improvements to the decertification process.
The Biden NLRB’s proposed rule, among other things, will give union bosses the power to use “blocking charges,” or unproven allegations of employer misconduct, to prevent workers from voting to decertify a union. The rule will also strip workers of the ability to file for a secret ballot election after a union installs itself via “card check,” a coercive process that bypasses the NLRB’s standard election process and instead permits union bosses to collect cards from workers (often through strong-arm tactics) that are later counted as “votes” for the union.
“Mr. Dorney and his coworkers’ effort to kick out the RWDSU union, which spanned several states, at least 15 facilities, and hundreds of workers, is yet another example that workers often want to escape union officials’ one-size-fits-all agenda. It’s also a demonstration that workers will go to great lengths in order to exercise this right,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “But the Biden NLRB, bent on empowering the President’s union boss political allies, plans to grant unions even more power to defeat workers’ will.”
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.