Charges come as more workers challenge union bosses’ forced-dues power in wake of Michigan Right to Work repeal

Sault Ste. Marie, MI (June 11, 2024) – Joseph Arnold, an employee at the 3 Mile Road branch of Meijer in Sault Ste. Marie, has just slammed the supermarket’s management with federal charges for threatening to fire him if he didn’t complete a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union membership form. Arnold filed the charges at Region 7 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law in the private sector. Under federal law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions like General Motors v. NLRB, neither union officials nor employers can compel workers to maintain formal union membership as a condition of getting or keeping a job.

This applies even in non-Right to Work states like Michigan, where union bosses have legal privileges to enforce contracts that require workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Employees in non-Right to Work states who choose to abstain from formal union membership also have the right under the Foundation-won Communications Workers of America v. Beck Supreme Court decision to object to paying union fees for anything unrelated to the union’s bargaining functions, such as political activities.

In contrast, in Right to Work states like neighboring Indiana and Wisconsin, all union financial support is strictly voluntary.

With the demand that Arnold sign a UFCW membership form or else be fired, Meijer officials appear to be imposing both full union membership and full union dues payments on him. Other workers have reported receiving similar demands to join or be fired.

Workers Across Michigan Challenge Forced-Dues Schemes

“Even though Michigan isn’t a Right to Work state anymore, that doesn’t give my employer agency to dictate my options,” commented Arnold. “Through ignorance or intent, Meijer threatening my job because I don’t want to associate with the union is unacceptable. If Meijer truly respects our rights they would present us with all options, as it is the job of the union to advocate my interests with my employer, not the job of my employer to advocate the interests of the union with me.”

Since the state’s Right to Work law was repealed earlier this year, Foundation attorneys have handled a flurry of cases for Michigan workers seeking to end coercive union influence in their workplaces. One such case involves illegal UFCW practices at a Kroger in Milford, Michigan, where employee Roger Cornett has levied federal charges against both the union and the store for jointly enforcing a scheme that forces employees to contribute to the union’s Political Action Committee (PAC) to stay employed.

Elsewhere in Michigan, Grand Rapids-area security guard James Reamsma is currently defending his and his coworkers’ recent “deauthorization vote” to nullify the forced-dues power of a United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) union. The UGSOA currently holds monopoly bargaining power over security guards posted at government buildings across Western Michigan, including in Sault Ste. Marie. Even though more of Reamsma’s colleagues voted for the deauthorization of the UGSOA than against it, litigation continues over the results. Reamsma’s case is one of many where Michigan workers are seeking to end union bosses’ power to compel payment of union dues or fees, and return to voluntary dues payments, as was protected under Michigan’s popular Right to Work law.

“Based on the cases that Foundation attorneys have already fielded in the short time that Michigan’s Right to Work law has been repealed, it’s clear that Michigan workers need more protection from coercive union power, not less,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union officials and complicit employers will often push the boundaries of what’s legal in an attempt to extend union power over workers regardless of whether they want or asked for the union.”

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 Jun 11, 2024 in News Releases