News Release

Operating Engineer Union Hit With Federal Charges For Threatening to Get Employees Fired

El Paso, Texas (March 11, 2003) – With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a worker for a federal contractor at Ft. Bliss today filed federal charges against officials of a local engineering union and his employer for illegally forcing him to pay full union dues as a job condition.

Cordev Inc. employee Richard Cabler, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) union Local 35 and Cordev. The union’s officials illegally threatened to get him fired for refusing to pay full dues, including dues spent for politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

“In an effort to stuff their coffers, union officials are demanding that employees simply shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

In December 2002, both IUOE union officials and Cordev notified all employees at the Fort Bliss facility that they would be fired if they failed to sign a dues check-off card forcing employees in the bargaining unit to pay full dues. However, the workers never received timely notice of their right to refrain from formal union membership and pay only a reduced fee.

These threats violate the workers’ rights established by the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck and subsequent NLRB rulings, union officials must specifically inform employees of their right to refrain from formal union membership and paying any costs other than those directly related to collective bargaining.

The Cordev controversy is somewhat unique in the Lone Star State, since Texas has a highly popular Right to Work law that bans compulsory unionism. However, because Cordev’s employees work on federal property under exclusive federal jurisdiction, the state’s Right to Work law does not protect them.

“The abusive actions of IUOE union officials show why most Texas workers are fortunate to have the protections of a Right to Work Law,” said Gleason.

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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