Union officials’ vague letters to workers failed to acknowledge requests to end dues deductions
Washington, DC (May 13, 2021) – Michigan Rieth-Riley Construction Company employees Jesse London and Rob Nevins are appealing to the National Labor Relations Board Office of Appeals their case charging International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 union officials with blocking their right to refrain from union financial support.
Their appeal, filed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, challenges IUOE bosses’ cryptic responses to London’s and Nevins’ requests in early 2020 to resign from the union and stop all dues deductions from their checks.
According to their appeal, IUOE officials responded to both men’s letters in April 2020, acknowledging their resignations but not accepting their dues revocations, instead telling them to refer to copies of their dues authorization forms “with respect to revocation.” Both men assert that they had submitted their requests to terminate dues deductions within a 15-day “window period” for such demands imposed by IUOE officials, and it was unclear what the union bosses’ reply meant.
The appeal also recounts that IUOE bosses mailed a check to each man for roughly $250, though no explanation was given on what the money was for or whether the checks meant that “Local 324 actually had honored their revocations so that roughly $2,100-2,500 in union dues would not be taken out of their” checks later in the year.
The appeal comes after NLRB Region 7 in Detroit, last month, refused to prosecute IUOE Local 324 for the inadequate responses, even though the Region had issued its second amended complaint just a month earlier stating that the union officials’ responses violated London’s and Nevins’ rights.
The rationales given for this reversal included Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr’s rescission of a memo from former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. That memo urged NLRB Regional Directors to prosecute unions who didn’t communicate with workers who missed union-imposed “window periods” in their attempts to stop dues deductions. NLRB Region 7 also magically cited “newly submitted evidence” that supposedly obviated London’s and Nevins’ assertions about the insufficiency of the union’s response.
The appeal argues that Ohr’s withdrawal of Robb’s memo is completely irrelevant to the case because Robb’s old memo “only required unions to actually communicate with employees regarding untimely revocation requests,” and London’s and Nevins’ requests were timely.
It also contends that NLRB Region 7 was wholly unspecific when referring to the “newly submitted evidence” from the union. Although this “evidence” presumably was the “two checks with no explanation or cover letter,” the appeal says, that does not “change the fact that Local 324 failed to accept Mr. London’s and Mr. Nevins’ revocations.”
London’s and Nevins’ appeal coincides with Michigan Rieth-Riley workers’ continued effort to safeguard their right to vote IUOE bosses out of their workplace. In February of this year, the NLRB announced that it would hear Rieth-Riley employee Rayalan Kent’s case that he and his coworkers already-cast ballots should be counted, after NLRB Region 7 officials ordered them destroyed based on unproven union “blocking charges.”
The appeal also was submitted amidst Acting NLRB General Counsel Peter Ohr’s continued attempts to undermine Foundation cases brought for workers who seek to free themselves from coercive union boss control. Just weeks after President Biden fired General Counsel Peter Robb before his Senate-confirmed term was over and installed Ohr, Ohr began dismissing complaints against unions that had forced themselves on Foundation-represented workers via coercive “card check” drives. He also began nixing multiple memoranda issued by Robb which drew on Foundation advice.
“So-called ‘Acting’ General Counsel Peter Ohr will have to make a decision: side with Mr. London and Mr. Nevins against clear violations of their right to refrain from financially supporting union bosses, or add both men to the growing list of rank-and-file workers he has betrayed by letting union officials trample their freedoms,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union dues deductions should be completely voluntary, not the result of union boss deception. Foundation staff attorneys will continue to fight to ensure that all Rieth-Riley workers know their ‘no means no’ when it comes to dues deductions.”
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.