Union and parking contractor collaborated to foist unwanted union “representation” on employees
Bethesda, MD (March 8, 2016) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, 14 National Institute of Health (NIH) parking attendants have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against a federal contractor and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union for violating their workplace rights. According to the charges, union and company officials coerced employees at the Bethesda NIH facility into acceding to unionization and then demanded they all pay full union dues to keep their jobs.
In October 2015, Penn Parking replaced Colonial Parking as the parking contractor at the Bethesda NIH campus. Penn officials then told the employees, many of whom had worked for NIH for years, that they could only keep their jobs if they signed union membership and dues deduction cards. Although these were signed under duress, union officials used the cards to begin collecting full dues from these employees.
Not only did UFCW officials bypass the proper legal procedures that determine whether a group of employees unionize, they also violated federal labor law by telling the employees that they must become dues-paying union members to keep their jobs. Union officials and employers are legally prohibited from requiring anyone to formally join a union as a condition of employment.
The NIH later determined that Penn Parking was wrongly given the contract, and the company is now in the process of being replaced by another contractor. However, union officials insist that they continue to “represent” the parking attendants, despite the fact that these employees were coerced into joining the union in the first place.
The charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency that administers private sector labor law.
“These employees were forced to join and pay dues to a union they had no interest in supporting,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “That’s outrageous, which is why Foundation staff attorneys intervened to defend their workplace rights.”
“Aside from highlighting the union’s coercive organizing tactics, this episode also demonstrates the need for a Maryland Right to Work law, which would protect employees from being forced to pay any union dues at all to keep a job,” added Semmens.