San Francisco, Calif. (May 2, 2003) — An employee of Swissport Corporation filed federal charges against officials of a local machinists union for illegally delaying the efforts of workers in the course of a successful election to strip the union hierarchy of its power to get employees fired for refusal to pay union dues.
Enjoying free legal aid provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Kirk Williams, a non-union member at Swissport, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union District Lodge 190, Local 1414.
“This is a clear example of union bosses doing everything they can to try and keep workers in the grasp of compulsory unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Last October, Swissport employees voted by a margin of 212-11 in the NLRB-supervised deauthorization election to remove the mandatory dues provision in the collective bargaining agreement with IAM union District Lodge 190, Local 1414. Despite the overwhelming vote, however, the IAM and its lawyers tried to overturn the election on the grounds that Swissport illegally intervened. The NLRB rejected all of the union’s claims as unsubstantiated.
Williams decided to seek the deauthorization election after becoming frustrated that IAM union officials were indifferent to the needs of the rank-and-file.
To trigger the deauthorization election, Williams needed to obtain signatures from at least 30 percent of his coworkers. Once that occurred, an absolute majority of workers in the bargaining unit had to vote “yes.” This requirement for an absolute majority established by the National Labor Relations Act is more difficult for employees to attain than the standard for certifying or decertifying a union, which requires only a majority of those actually voting.
Though federal law still denies the employees their right to bargain with their employer individually on their own merits, IAM union officials may no longer compel Swissport employees to pay for unwanted union representation.