Bristol, Va. (October 9, 2003) – With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, three Bristol-area workers filed federal charges challenging a back-room agreement between Dana Corporation and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, on the grounds that it violates employees’ right to refrain from union representation.
Donna Stinson, Brian Rasnake, and Barry Wood, three employees of Dana Corporation, 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 Dana Corporation that would block implementation of the agreement. As part of their agreement, company officials handed over employees’ personal information to union organizers, forced workers to attend “captive audience” speeches given by Dana executives, and made it difficult for employees to void previously signed union authorization cards.
In August, bowing to pressure from UAW organizers, and the threat of lost job opportunities with the “Big Three” automakers, Dana Corporation signed a so-called “neutrality agreement” with the union. Previous efforts by the UAW to organize the facility had failed – with a majority of workers voting against unionization in an election held in 2002.
“Since employees have been rejecting unionization through the secret ballot election process, union organizers have abandoned this less abusive process and instead are organizing companies from the top down,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
As part of their organizing efforts, officials with Dana and the UAW notified the workers that union authorization cards signed more than a year ago -- in July 2002 -- would be considered proof of employee support for unionization. The only way workers could rescind prior authorization cards was if they went to UAW headquarters during a select period and met with or contacted a particular union representative.
Many workers signed petitions and letters stating they wanted their union authorization cards revoked, but in further violation of the workers’ right to reject union affiliation, Dana and UAW officials completely ignored the workers’ revocations.
In late August, Dana officials organized “captive audience” speeches and told employees that, if they did not support unionization, they could risk losing future job opportunities. Days after the mandatory speech, Dana recognized the UAW as the workers’ exclusive bargaining representative, based only on the union authorization cards provided by UAW officials.
“From the beginning, UAW organizers have done everything possible to short circuit the notion of employee consent and impose unwanted union affiliation upon them,” stated Gleason.