Because union officials chose not to face employees’ will in secret-ballot vote, majority-backed employee petition asking Sysco to remove union stands
Oklahoma City, OK (July 27, 2020) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Sysco Oklahoma warehouse employee Henry Weilmeunster and his coworkers have successfully removed an unwanted Teamsters union from their workplace. The win comes after Teamsters union bosses backed down from their attempts to challenge the validity of a petition Weilmeunster and a majority of his coworkers signed asking Sysco to withdraw recognition of the union.
Weilmeunster and his coworkers achieved their victory by taking advantage of the rights won by Foundation staff attorneys in the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) 2019 Johnson Controls decision. In Johnson Controls, the NLRB ruled that an employer can withdraw recognition from a union if it receives a majority-backed employee petition opposing the union within 90 days of a monopoly bargaining contract expiring. Union officials then have a 45-day window to contest such a withdrawal of recognition, but only by filing for a secret-ballot vote among the employees in the workplace on whether the union should stay.
In December 2019, Weilmeunster submitted to the NLRB a petition requesting a secret-ballot vote to remove the union. Anticipating that union officials might file “blocking charges” against Sysco to derail his efforts to oust the union, Weilmeunster also gave a petition to Sysco asking that it withdraw recognition of the Teamsters union at the first available opportunity. Both requests were supported by a majority of his coworkers.
As Weilmeunster expected, Teamsters union officials filed “blocking charges” with the NLRB to challenge his decertification petition and stop any vote. Union bosses often use “blocking charges” to stop employees from exercising their right to remove them from workplaces. These abusive charges usually contain allegations of unrelated wrongdoing by the employer.
Though NLRB Region 14 officials in January at Teamsters officials’ behest blocked Weilmeunster and his coworkers’ request for a decertification vote, Sysco ultimately withdrew recognition from the Teamsters union based on the showing of majority employee support for withdrawal in Weilmeunster’s petition. Under Johnson Controls, Teamsters honchos had a 45-day window to file for a secret-ballot election to reinstall the union, but did not do so – apparently because they feared an election loss. With union officials’ blocking charges now settled or dropped, Sysco’s withdrawal of recognition stands unopposed and the workers’ request to be free of the Teamsters has been fully and finally honored.
“Although it’s certainly good news that Mr. Weilmeunster and his coworkers finally succeeded in removing an unwanted Teamsters union, it’s telling that union officials sought to use lawyers to trap workers in union ranks, instead of just requesting a secret ballot election to determine the employees’ wishes,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This case demonstrates why Johnson Controls is important: Union bosses should not be allowed to maintain monopoly power over workers through legal maneuvering when there is clear evidence that a majority of workers want the union out of their workplace.”
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.