News reports detail that United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses have taken steps towards ordering employees out on strike at Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, and Ralphs grocery stores across central and southern California.
The situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-ordered strike. That is why workers confronted with strike demands frequently contact the Foundation to learn how they can avoid fines and other union imposed discipline for working during a strike to support themselves and their families.
The fact is, employees do not have to become or remain members of the UFCW or any other union to get or keep their jobs. Despite the often-misleading language in union negotiated contracts, no employee is actually required to be a formal member of the union. Union officials have no power to fine or discipline employees that are not union members. Non-member employees have the right to ignore union strike demands under federal labor law, but it is important you read this before you do so.
For five decades, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has worked in the courts to expand and protect the rights of individual employees in such situations. It is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse.
Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions, and Ralphs’ employees should know they have the following rights:
1) If you are a union member, you have the right to resign your membership from the union. If you don’t support this union, you can send the union a letter resigning your membership.
2) You have the right to go to work during a strike without suffering union discipline, but ONLY if you are a non-member or resign your union membership first. Union officials can (and often do) fine union members who work during a strike. Resigning union membership BEFORE you return to work during a strike is the only way to avoid these union fines and discipline. For more information, visit: Union Discipline and Employee Rights.
3) You also have the right to revoke your dues check-off and stop allowing the union hierarchy to collect money from your paycheck every week. You can send letters to the union and your employer revoking your authorization to have union dues deducted from your paycheck during periods when there is no collective bargaining agreement in effect. A sample letter for employees who wish to resign their union membership and revoke their dues check-off is here.
4) If you wish to eject an unaccountable union from your workplace, you have the right to sign a decertification petition to obtain a secret ballot election to do so. (See Decertification Election.)
NOTE: If possible, use certified mail, return receipt requested, and save copies of your letters and the return receipts to prove delivery. If you hand deliver a resignation and/or dues deduction revocation, make sure that you have a reliable witness to the delivery. In our experience, union officials have ignored union resignations from workers.
Go to About Your Legal Rights: Private Sector Employee to learn more about your rights, and contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation with any questions at 800-336-3600, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid/.