Gaffney, S.C. (August 11, 2003) – With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, two Gaffney-area workers today filed federal charges against Freightliner, Daimler-Chrysler, and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union for withholding pay raises as part of a strategy to coerce employees into ceding to unionization.
Although an overwhelming majority of employees have signed a petition opposing the UAW union’s organizing efforts, Freightliner is bargaining with the union over the employees’ wages and terms of employment.
In response, Freightliner employees David Roach and Mike Ivey obtained free legal aid from Foundation attorneys to file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The charges seek an NLRB injunction against the UAW and Freightliner.
Roach and Ivey decided to file charges after UAW officials vetoed a long-scheduled and promised pay increase and effectively required a freeze on pay raises until the employees agree to unionization. Implementing a so-called “neutrality agreement” that requires the company to actively assist the UAW in its organizing efforts, Freightliner has, in effect, made the UAW its “company union,” even though the union enjoys negligible support from rank-and-file workers.
Approximately 70 percent of the plant’s employees have already signed a petition stating that they reject union affiliation and prefer to negotiate directly with company officials over wages and benefits. The petition states in part that the undersigned employees “recognize the destructive and self-serving behavior of the UAW, and its documented role in union violence, union corruption, and plant closures caused by featherbedding and other uneconomic union work rules.”
“UAW operatives are holding the wage increase hostage to force workers into union ranks,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The employees simply don’t want the union around – but Freightliner and the UAW are refusing to get the message.”
Under most “neutrality agreements,” union organizers are given full access to non-union employees’ personal information and company facilities. Also, workers are usually denied the ability to reject unionization through a secret ballot election, and union operatives are allowed to sign up workers under a “card check” authorization scheme. If UAW officials sign up a majority of the workers, Freightliner would likely agree to recognize the union as the exclusive representative of all workers, even those who did not sign a card. Under the “card check” unionization process, workers are often misled, harassed, or threatened into signing authorization cards.
In recent years, as union organizers have had less success in persuading employees to vote for unionization during secret ballot elections, unions have focused on organizing employers. Bolstered by a series of Clinton NLRB rulings, union operatives increasingly use “neutrality agreements” and other “top-down” organizing techniques to force employers to recognize unions without a vote by the workers.