Construction Workers at Will Rogers Airport File Federal Charges Against Union After Illegal Firings
Oklahoma City, Okla. (July 7, 2003) — With free legal aid provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a pair of Oklahoma City airport workers filed federal charges today against a local union for illegally causing their termination in retaliation for refraining from union affiliation.
Mitchell Girod and Terry Southerland, both construction workers at the Will Rogers World Airport site in Oklahoma City, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Last month, ISEC, Inc. managers fired the two employees at the request of union officials with the Arkansas Council of Carpenters and Joiners (ACCJ) under the auspices of an unlawful pre-hire agreement.
A majority of ISEC, Inc. employees had already voted against union representation in an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election. Nevertheless, only weeks later, the union and employer entered into the pre-hire agreement, which requires employees to get clearance from union officials and pay a fee to an exclusive union hiring hall to perform work on the construction site.
“Ignoring the fact that the employees had already rejected unionization, union officials demanded that employees pay up or be fired,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is the type of tyranny that Oklahomans meant to end when they enacted the state’s Right to Work law.”
The firings violated the law because the employees had rejected unionization within 12 months before the new contract; Girod and Southerland were never informed of their rights; and the union hierarchy specifically retaliated against them for refusing to pay money to the union.
In addition to running afoul of federal law, the agreement violates the spirit of Oklahoma’s highly popular Right to Work constitutional amendment. The amendment, passed in 2001 through a statewide referendum, frees workers from being forced to join or to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Since its passage, Oklahoma has led the nation in several categories of economic growth.
Unfortunately, federal law preempts state law in the hiring hall context. “Hiring halls are used by union bosses to undermine the protections of a Right to Work law," said Gleason.