Milwaukee, Wisc. (December 12, 2003) — With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a worker at the Miller Compressing recycling plant today filed federal charges after he was fired in retaliation for circulating a petition seeking a workplace election on forced union dues.
Daniel Zizzo filed unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against both the union and his former employer. Zizzo alleges officials from the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers (PACE) Union Local 7-364, an AFL-CIO affiliate, successfully pressured his employer to fire him in retaliation for obtaining signatures on an NLRB prescribed form requesting a deauthorization election.
Deauthorization elections are conducted by NLRB officials. If successful, they simply void collective bargaining agreement provisions that require workers to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment – thereby creating conditions of voluntary unionism and forcing union officials to be more responsive to the concerns of rank-and-file workers. To succeed, at least 30 percent of workers in a bargaining unit must sign a petition requesting the secret ballot election, and a majority of the entire bargaining unit (not just of those actually voting) must cast a vote in favor of deauthorization.
“Union officials feared losing the power to mandate dues payments from all workers. Without the power to get employees fired for refusal to pay union dues, union officials could actually be held accountable,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Zizzo asserts that while he was circulating a deauthorization petition, the papers, including the signatures he had gathered from co-workers, were taken out of his work locker. According to Zizzo, he had already gathered the necessary signatures to trigger the election and ultimately to succeed in the deauthorization. He also asserts that union officials trumped up charges against him to get him fired.
The federal charges state that Zizzo’s retaliatory firing at the union hierarchy’s behest violates provisions of federal law intended to protect the rights of individual workers to refrain from participating in union activities. Zizzo also asks that Miller Compressing be prosecuted for providing the union hierarchy with unlawful assistance in firing him.
“Daniel Zizzo’s firing shows just how zealously union officials guard their government-granted power to collect forced union dues,” added Gleason. “Until Wisconsin workers enjoy the protections of a Right to Work law, workers throughout the state will inevitably continue to suffer such abuse.”