Colorado Springs, CO (January 14, 2015) – A former Michels Corporation construction worker in Colorado has won a settlement from a Brownsville, Wisconsin-based company and a Colorado-based union for violating his rights and illegally firing him.
The settlement comes after Paul Castle of Fountain filed federal unfair labor practice charges with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Shortly after Michels hired Castle in August, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 578 officials demanded he become a full dues-paying union member. Because Colorado does not have Right to Work protections for workers, workers can be forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment. However, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the Foundation-won Communication Workers v. Beck case that nonmember workers cannot be compelled to pay the portion of union dues used for the union’s political and member-only activities. Union officials are also legally obligated to inform workers of these rights and to provide workers with an independently-verified audit of chargeable and non-chargeable expenses.
Castle alleged in charges he filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that when he notified union officials that he was refraining from union membership and full dues payments, they stated that they would not comply with the procedural requirements established under Beck. Furthermore, union officials refused his good faith efforts to pay the union for dues they claimed he owed.
Despite Castle’s efforts to pay the union the full dues he supposedly owed, he was fired by Michels. Adding insult to injury, the company deducted union dues from his final paycheck even though failure to pay union dues was the stated reason for his illegal termination.
Under the terms of the settlement, Castle will receive $6,400 in lost wages and $91 for the dues taken from his last paycheck. The settlement also forces union officials to send a notice to workers detailing their right to refrain from union membership and full dues payments.
Michels Corporation is owned by Tim Michels, a Republican Party “mega-donor” and former candidate for US Senate, who is the leader of a coalition opposed to passage of Right to Work protections in Wisconsin.
“Oftentimes, it takes a worker filing federal charges against coercive union officials and company management to exercise their basic statutory rights,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case underscores the need for Right to work protections for workers making union membership and dues payments completely voluntary.”
Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for workers. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.
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 around 250 cases nationwide per year.