Des Moines, Iowa (August 13, 2001) – Single mother Jean Green has filed a federal lawsuit against the Machinists union, which had her fired illegally last Mother’s Day for exercising her right not to join the union.
With the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Green, a United Airlines customer service clerk at Des Moines International Airport, filed the lawsuit against the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union, United Airlines, and IAM Local 141 in the United States District Court for the Central District of Iowa Central Division.
“Cold-hearted IAM union officials forced this single mother of three off the job and into the unemployment line on Mother’s Day,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.
In violation of the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision Ellis v. Railway Clerks, IAM union officials repeatedly demanded that Green formally join the union and pay full union dues as a condition of employment. When Green balked at their repeated illegal demands, they instructed United Airlines officials to fire her.
On May 13, 2001, Mother’s Day, a United Airlines official called Green at home to tell her she was out of a job.
At no time did IAM officials inform Green of her rights under Ellis to abstain from union membership and pay reduced union dues. Under Ellis, employees cannot be forced to fund activities unrelated to bargaining, such as politics. (Iowa’s highly popular Right to Work law, which frees workers from being forced to pay any dues or fees to an unwanted union, does not protect airline and railroad employees.)
When Green applied for unemployment assistance, United officials challenged her claim, stating that she had been fired for “misconduct” — despite the fact that United officials twice recognized her outstanding workplace performance since she was hired in 1999.
Foundation attorneys are seeking compensatory damages in the amount of all lost wages and benefits, and for Green’s emotional distress, mental anguish, damage to reputation, humiliation, and embarrassment. They are also seeking punitive damages.
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.